The Oketz Special Forces: Always On Patrol, Always Defending Israel


UPDATE 8 am Israel time Friday:

Along the southern coast here in Ashdod it has been a noisy night with intense thunderstorms passing overhead as they headed inland. Continual flashes of lightning accompanied by booming thunder and heavy rain mark the beginning of the winter season. In fact, there was so much thunder that the usual sounds of drones flying overhead and F15s and 16s taking off and landing from our nearby AFB were completely drowned out.

The demonstration in Tel Aviv last night to try to highlight the disaster that is going on in southern Israel was a bust. A few people came out to support the South, but for the most part nobody from Tel Aviv or anywhere other than the South showed up. It is an appalling situation here in Israel that people can march in the streets for lowering the price of cottage cheese and apartments, but no one cares that their fellow citizens are getting bombed and mortared continually.

As you can see from israelstreet breaking news, the border situation in the North becomes more dangerous by the day with Syrian tank and mortar shells “accidentally” hitting Israel’s Golan Heights.  On the Gaza border, the situation has completely deteriorated with nonstop fighting now going on with Palestinian terrorists who are not only shooting missiles and mortars at Israeli communities, but are also shooting mortars at and blowing up IEDs beside IDF patrols.  

Amidst all of the activity yesterday, it was the last one reported in breakingnews at 1 am that our laughingly called “Defense” Minister Ehud Barak is focused on this morning.  For some reason, the terrorist detonation of a booby trap in a tunnel on the border beside Kissufim just as an IDF jeep passed over is causing Barak “grave” consternation. Fortunately, only one soldier was “lightly” injured–whatever that means.

One final, unbelievable, note: Maj. Gen. Tal Russo, under whose southern “command” the “road to Eilat” fiasco, the Kerem Shalom fiasco, the continuing missile attacks fiasco, and now the mortar and IED attacks fiasco have all taken place (and are taking place), is now being interviewed by Barak for a promotion to Deputy Chief of Staff of the IDF General Command. Absolutely pathetic.

TODAY’S BLOG:

A team of the Oketz unit.

One item not mentioned on either israelstreet breaking news or in the above update commentary was that a Syrian infiltrator was stopped in the Golan yesterday. This morning he sits in an Israeli hospital suffering from a dog bite, having been captured by a team of the Oketz Unit of the IDF’s Special Forces.

It was an Oketz patrol like this one that caught the Syrian yesterday.

The Oketz Unit is the canine special forces unit–and it is one of the oldest of Israel’s special forces having been founded in 1939 as part of the Haganah.  It is also one of the IDF’s most highly specialized and highly trained units.

Dogs train everyday with their handlers.

Specific dogs train for particular specialties:

1. Track and pursuit dogs: these dogs are trained manhunters and have been known to track terrorists for miles before catching them.

You may remember this picture from last year when an Oketz dog brought down a Palestinian terrorist.

2. Breach dogs: these dogs are trained to look and smell for abnormalities in border fences–to sense breaks or tampering not visible to the human eye.

3. Weapons and munitions dogs: these dogs are trained to ferret out all kinds of hidden weapons from guns to knives.

4. Hidden explosive dogs: these dogs are specifically trained to smell specific explosives.

5. Rescue dogs: these dogs find people buried in collapsed buildings caused by warfare–they are also widely used around the world when the Oketz unit is requested to come in and rescue victims of natural disasters:

An Oketz dog with his handler in Haiti searching through earthquake rubble for survivors.

The unit uses many different dog breeds, yet the dog of choice is the Malinois, or Belgian Shepherd because of its short hair, size (large enough to attack, small enough to be picked up by its handler), and its jaw compression (powerful bite). Dogs remain in the unit until they are seven years old, at which age they are retired to civilian homes.

Handlers are all members of the Kfir Infantry Brigade. Entrance into Oketz is rigorous with only about one tenth of all applicants passing the three day tryouts and 17 month training course.

As you can gather from the picture, many IDF Oketz handlers are women.

So a special thank you goes out today to the Oketz Unit–always on patrol and always on guard defending Israel.

Another brave team of the Oketz.

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