Dogs supplied to Israeli military by The Netherlands involved in abuses
[29 October 2015] – A recent article published in the Dutch media (NRC: Dutch/English) indicates that the Dutch Government has been approving export licenses for the supply of service dogs to the Israeli military for use in the West Bank and East Jerusalem. This has raised concerns in The Netherlands due to evidence indicating that the service dogs are used to attack Palestinian civilians, including minors, and frequently accompany military units when they conduct intimidating raids on Palestinian homes in the middle of the night.
The granting of export licenses for service dogs is controversial due to an EU ruling supposed to prevent the issuing of export licenses for the shipment of “strategic goods”, such as pistols and camouflage paint, to Israel. It has been suggested that service dogs are not “strategic goods” and therefore do not fall within the ruling but this has been questioned as the Dutch police and Defence Ministry classify these dogs as “means to violence”, similar to pepper spray and firearms.
Following the release of the NRC article, the issue was raised in the Dutch Parliament on 26 October 2015, with calls for the Cabinet to immediately cease the issuing of export licenses for service dogs destined for use by the Israeli military in the West Bank.
Evidence collected by MCW suggests that the use of service dogs by the military is an effective method used to control and intimdate Palestinians in the West Bank during demonstrations, night raids on family homes, during interrogation or simply when they are working on their land.
- On 17 August 2015, a 15-year-old youth reports that an Israeli interrogator in the West Bank settlement of Etzion threatened to bring a service dog into the interrogation room and to deny him food if he did not confess to throwing stones and Molotov cocktails at soldiers in the West Bank.
- On 23 December 2014, a 16-year-old youth reports he was attacked by service dogs whilst attending a demonstration near the West Bank settlement of Karmi Zur. The youth reports that he was bitten on his shoulder and right leg resulting in hospitalisation for two days. The youth reports that the soldiers appeared to deliberately allow the dogs for an extended period and ignored his pleas for help. Video footage
- On 20 October 2014, a 16-year-old youth reports that he was attacked by service dogs as he was working with his father on their land near the settlement of Karmi Zur. The youth reports that he was bitten on his hand, leg and back which resulted in heavy bleeding requiring hospitalisation.
- On 3 August 2014, a 14-year-old youth reports that he was detained by Israeli soldiers near a main road in the West Bank at 9:00 p.m. He was taken to a military base near a settlement and left outside on the ground tied and blindfolded. He reports that a dog started to sniff him and grabbed his trousers. When the youth tried to push the dog away he was punched by a soldier.
In June 2015, MCW lodged a submission with the UN based on 200 testimonies confirming an earlier finding by UNICEF that “the ill-treatment of children who come in contact with the military detention system appears to be widespread, systematic and institutionalized”. The evidence indicates that Dutch supplied service dogs play an important role in this systematic abuse and may become the subject of legal action in The Netherlands.