In a recent Hamas parade in Gaza, a yet-unseen capability was displayed: attack dogs, apparently styled after the IDF's Oketz canine unit.
Hamas' canine unit is a part of the Nohba ("elect") tunnel unit of the organization, and has been used so far for patrolling the new paved patrol road that runs along the border with Israel - 250 meters running inside PA territory. Other tasks have included distancing Arab protesters confronting Israeli soldiers, throwing stones, and damaging the fence.
Not all canine experts are impressed with reports of this new capability, however. Mike ben Yaakov, Commander of the civilian Israel Dog Unit (IDU) that deals with security, search, and rescue dogs dismisses the reports as a "Hamas PR stunt."
According to ben Yaakov, the reports resemble "typical Hamas/Hizballah psychological warfare to intimidate Jews and the IDF. Anybody can take a picture of themselves with a dog; naturally the Hamas, who tries to pretend that they're a real army - they can't have F16's and they can't have perhaps Merkava tanks, but they can find a dog and take a picture of it and pretend to have such a unit. In my humble opinion, they do not have a unit with any great capabilities, because that's what Hamas does: They engage in disinformation and until otherwise proven, I'll assume it doesn't exist or that it's not a very serious unit.
"It takes a very long time to create a serious unit with serious canine capabilities. We at the Israel Dog Unit, which is a civilian unit, have been working with preparing dogs with Israeli and international experts for the last seventeen years. So I can safely state that this is not something that you put together a few dogs in a few months and you take some pictures and you have a dog unit. Even if they have some dogs, I think it's a little early to call it a Dog Unit.
"If I were the decision makers in Israel, I would take heed of the possibility that they have dogs, and that could complicate Israeli raids in Judea, Samaria, and Gaza."
Just last week, a senior security official warned that Hamas has restored their pre-Operation Defensive Shield capabilities, both in terms of tunnels and its rocket arsenal: In the prevailing Gaza quiet, Hamas is working energetically to renew its capabilities.
A large part of the arsenal is the result of Hamas's Gaza weapons industry, comprised largely of improvised materials. Negotiations between Hamas and Egyptian authorities for opening of the Rafiah crossing prompted concern among IDF officials, lest the new channel allow for authentic weapon smuggling, further improving Hamas' capabilities. It is estimated that Hamas is not heading towards an imminent conflict but continues preparing for one.
Last week, a Hamas military wing spokesman referred to the State Comptroller's report on the tunnel threat and said that it provides proof of Hamas' victory in Operation Defensive Shield. "In the near future the scope of the failure will become more evident", he declared. "The report shows the size of the Zionist enemy's loss and the failure - it proves that Hamas won Defensive Shield," said the spokesman, Abu Obeida. "In the near future there will be more evidence of the scope of failure."