RAMALLAH, April 10 (JMCC) – A Palestinian human rights group said Thursday that the Israeli decision to use dogs to chase down Palestinian demonstrators is a crime in international humanitarian law.
“The use of animals to chase humans is a huge offense to humanity and against human rights,” Shawan Jabarin, general director of al-Haq human rights organization told JMCC. “This decision is a grave violation of international humanitarian law, which calls for the preservation of human dignity.”
The Israeli newspaper Maariv reported Thursday that the Israeli military has decided to use trained dogs to chase down Palestinian demonstrators that throw rocks at soldiers. The move comes as a means of crowd control that decreases the chances of the demonstrators being killed by the military, said the article.
“Instead of using dogs as a way to stop killing Palestinians, Israeli soldiers must be stopped from committing the crimes in the first place,” said Jabarin. He called on human rights groups to prosecute Israeli soldiers and officers implementing the decision.
According to Maariv, the decision to deploy dogs was made after recent investigations into the killing of four Palestinians near Nablus. The investigations found that the army could have avoided the killings and simply arrested the four Palestinians, “but safety and security reasons called for the killing.”
“The Palestinians killed in Nablus did not represent any danger to the Israeli army -- as their investigations showed -- but for the army, killing is the easiest option,” said Jabarin. The military “should stop the use of live ammunition against unarmed Palestinians,” he added.
Dogs from the Oketz unit have been in training for chasing down Palestinian demonstrators, reported Maariv, and the suggestion to implement their use was agreed to by the military commander of West Bank forces after success in test drills.
Jabarin said that the use of canine units is primarily appropriate for the detection of bombs and drugs, and not in the deterrence of humans. “Simple logic maintains that using animals against humans is a crime, and an insult to humanity,” he said.