[29 October 2015] – A recent article published in the Dutch newspaper NRC (full article (Dutch
), short article (English
) has revealed that the Dutch Government has been approving export licenses for the supply of service dogs to the Israeli military for use in the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem for several years. This has raised concerns in The Netherlands as there is evidence indicating that these dogs are used to attack Palestinian civilians, including women and 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 the service dogs is controversial due to an EU directive on the refusal of export licenses for the shipment of strategic goods such as pistols and camouflage paint to Israel. It has been suggested that the export of service dogs does not fall within the directive but this has been called into question because the Dutch police and defence ministry classify these dogs as 'means to violence’ just like pepper spray and fire arms.
Following the release of the NRC article, the issue was raised
with the Dutch Foreign Minister, Bert Koenders, in the Dutch Parliament on 26 October 2015, during which calls were made to immediately cease the issuing of export licenses for service dogs destined for use by the Israeli military in East Jerusalem and the West Bank.
In a related matter, in June 2015, WCLAC lodged a submission
with the UN concerning the devastating impact that repeated night raids conducted by the Israeli military is having on Palestinians in East Jerusalem and the West Bank. The submission noted that since 1967 at least 65,000 night raids have been conducted by the Israeli military in the West Bank alone (not including East Jerusalem). The submission concluded that the primary intention behind these night raids is to intimidate Palestinians living in close proximity to Israeli settlements built in violation of international law. Significantly, the submission notes that the overwhelming majority of night raids occur within 2 km of an Israeli settlement and in many cases the soldiers are accompanied by service dogs.
Examples of recent cases documented by WCLAC in which service dogs have been used by the Israeli military in the West Bank include:
- On 3 August 2015 (Aisha A.), around 50 Israeli soldiers surrounded a Palestinian home in the village of Al Mughayyir at 1:30 a.m. accompanied by service dogs. A 25-year-old male was detained and beaten in front of his family. Aisha, the detained man’s mother, reports that she is still suffering from shock and finds that she cries uncontrollably whenever she thinks about the experience.
- On 3 July 2015 (Rabia A.), around 60 masked Israeli soldiers accompanied by service dogs surrounded a Palestinian home in the village of Beit Liqya at 5:00 a.m. and blew up the front door. The soldiers then started to beat Rabia’s 22-year-old son for no apparent reason. The soldiers also threw the family’s belongings on the floor including containers of sugar and oil in the kitchen. One month later Rabia discovered that her son had been transferred to a prison located inside Israel in violation of the Fourth Geneva Convention and the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court.
- On 14 May 2015 (Nijud B.), Israeli soldiers entered a Palestinian home in the village of Wadi Al Far’a at 3:00 a.m. accompanied by a service dog. Nijud reports that her children, including a 1-year-old, woke up in a panic when they heard the service dog barking inside their home. Nijud reports that her youngest child was “scared to death of the dog”. The soldiers then proceeded to search the family home causing considerable damage.
In addition to potentially contravening EU directives concerning the export of strategic goods to Israel for the use in occupied territory, the supply of service dogs may also contravene the directive of the International Court of Justice contained in its Advisory Opinion
on the legality of the Wall that States must not render aid or assistance in maintaining the situation created by its construction.
WCLAC urges its supporters to contact the Dutch embassy in their country and request an immediate end to the issuing of export licenses for service dogs to the Israeli military and police for use in East Jerusalem and the West Bank.