West Bank: The Dog Routine

By Tamar Fleishman

Testimony num. 1:

• ‘Had it not been a security matter and a humanitarian one, we wouldn’t be doing it!’ said Gidi who was training a dog trainer who was training the dog, using a Palestinian vehicle that was hunted down arbitrarily.

-From the back, from the front and inside.

Once the mission was completed Gidi found the time to tell us that the preliminary training of the dogs is performed at the base. "This over here is like school for them", he added and amplified on matters regarding state security, while ignoring the question posed: if it were necessary to use vehicles when training the dogs, then why didn’t they train them using settlers’ cars at Givat Zeev which is closer to their base.

Testimony num. 2:

• In front of the post the soldiers detained a Palestinian vehicle. The three passengers were taken out, their belongings were stacked on top to the car, their identification cards were taken from them, and they were ordered to stand nearby while a soldier aimed a rifle towards their bodies. Another soldier walked to the vehicle with a pig strapped to a leash. The pig sniffed the outside of the vehicle, then the doors opened before it and the pig was taken inside, it strolled along on and between the seats until finding the rifle cartridge that the pig trainer hid inside the vehicle.

Both are actual testimonies based on reality. The only difference between them is that in the second testimony I had switched the word "dog" with the word "pig", which made it seem unrealistic and absurd as well as emphasizing the fact that while the sacred of Israel’s values are kept and protected and no one around here or anywhere else in the world would dare use a pig when inspecting people who are Jewish, that which is sacred to Muslims is stumped on under the occupational regime that expropriates their freedoms and the sanctity of the beliefs of those  who are arbitrarily chosen for dog’s training.

Dogs aren’t being used at the checkpoint for security reasons, the goal is to train the dogs and the soldiers for "military operations", that is, operations that include raiding into villages and violently entering into residents homes late at night when preforming arrests or when executing the vile procedure known in the military lingo as "demonstration of presence" or "the creation of a sense of prosecution". Verifications to this can be found in testimonies collected by "Breaking the Silence".

When asked, even the soldiers don’t refute this truth they only add that:

– "Palestinian own many weapons"

– "You can’t compare the Palestinians possession of weapons to that of settlers, because we are in a state of war and not of occupation…"

– "Only last week we caught two people who were wanted, clearly they were terrorists, the GSS said so".

According to the belief of Muslims, the dog is an impure animal and defiles everything that comes in contact with it or with its breath. This belief, which is bluntly violated when the dog is placed inside the privet car of a Muslim, intensifies the rage and hatred that is accumulated with no outlet apart for small and privet protestations. Since anyone who refuses might receive a harsh and painful punishment.

Four years ago I witnessed an incident in which a Palestinian from East Jerusalem abandoned his vehicle at Qalandiya checkpoint after a dog had entered it. The man, Yasser was his name, said that since the interior of the car was defiled by the dog, he wasn’t allowed to enter it until having the car specially cleaned. A police man that was sent to handle the unexpected resistance to the inspection demanded that Yasser present before him a copy of the Koran as evidence of his religious devotion. Having not found one, the police man doubted his religious zeal and allowed the soldiers to let the dog inside the vehicle in spite of the protest of its owner.

These drills which are performed by the dog trainers unit ("Oketz) are executed regularly, several days a week at Jaba checkpoint. The place had become a training field. This takes place even though thousands of vehicles pass there each day and in spite of it being an important rout, because this spot is hidden from the non-Palestinian public eye.

And the Palestinians? During the tens of years of occupation its designers and directors managed to embed in the Israeli society the idea of the inhumanity of the other, and by so to create a social dynamic based of hate and fear while ignoring the feelings and thoughts of the victim.

(Translated by Ruth Fleishman)

– As a member of Machsomwatch, once a week Tamar Fleishman heads out to document the checkpoints between Jerusalem and Ramallah. This documentation (reports, photos and videos) can be found on the organization’s site: www.machsomwatch.org. She is also a member of the Coalition of Women for Peace and volunteer in Breaking the Silence. She contributed this article to PalestineChronicle.com.

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