An elite squad of security dogs has joined the war on the new wave of Palestinian terror attacks in Israel — and they know Yiddish.
I recently spent an afternoon with the Israel Civilian K9 Unit to get a first-hand look at these four-legged soldiers.
“Zitz!” the private unit’s founder Mike Guzofsky barked at a handsome Dutch Shepherd by his side.
“Uman speaks a little Yiddish,” said Guzofsky, who was a close associate of assassinated Jewish extremist Rabbi Meir Kahane.
There are some five dozen dogs in the unit, mostly Belgian and Dutch Shepherds imported from Europe for up to $10,000 each.
Once in Israel, a group of volunteers train and manage the furry troop, which is deployed all over the country.
Its mission is two-fold: Some are trained to participate in search and rescue of missing persons, which occupy the bulk of the unit’s time. Others are bred as “security dogs,” specifically trained, Guzofsky explained, to protect Jewish civilians from would-be assailants.
The K9 unit is privately run but sometimes works with Israeli law enforcement or military.
I joined the K9 Unit recently for a training session at the Gush Etzion junction in the West Bank, a contentious spot in the Judean hills that is often a target for terrorists. Ezra Schwartz was killed here and three young men were kidnapped and later murdered in an incident that sparked the Gaza war in 2014.
Peeking into what can only be described as a Jewish settler version of the Scooby Doo van, I was greeted by a large dog and two young men, one South African and the other from Toronto, both IDF soldiers who volunteer with the K9 Unit in their spare time.
I spent the afternoon watching drills and simulated rescue missions, including a search in the forest accompanied by a drone hovering above.