Hours before the Prime Minister, special forces, or wave after wave of police reservists began to pour into Lod in response to the drastic unrest in the city, one particular unit was already deployed to protect the city and citizens. The Israel Dog Unit, a nonprofit well-known in Lod for its dramatic rescue of Avraham Gitnekh on Rosh Hashana, responded to residents’ desperate calls for help against growing riots with multiple canine patrols throughout the city streets.
IDU canine patrols reinforce riot police in Lod. (IDU Public Relations)
Reinforced by droves of volunteers from the town of Yitzhar, the IDU’s patrols braved angry mobs, an increasingly hostile police presence, and repeated rocket strikes to turn back lynchings and arson attempts, escort residents through the streets, and drive off looters and vandals. Miraculously, the most injury or damage suffered was a minor shrapnel strike to one response vehicle.
Shrapnel strike on an IDU vehicle.
One resident, a Holocaust survivor aged 91, commented tearfully that he had never dreamed to see a city in Israel in such a state. “This reminds me of the Kristalnacht,” he wept, after a firebomb was thrown at his home. A local Yeshiva student was quick to note the effect the dogs had on the crowds, commenting with grim irony that “One of these dogs is doing what twenty police officers cannot.”
Social media groups used by the rioters indicated their awareness in the sudden turn of the tide, with comments indicating outrage that there were dogs being brought into use against them. One resident posted a video clip of the dogs preparing for operations, with narration in the background taunting the rioters.
IDU director Yekutiel Ben-Yaakov is adamant that his organization is doing the right thing. “The IDU never turns down a call for help. We can’t possibly stand idly by now, not with an entire city under siege.”
The sentiment was shared by some of the nation’s top officials; PM Netanyahu, Defense Minister Gantz, Interior Security Minister Ohana, Chief of Staff Kochavi, and Inspector General Shabtai all visited Lod over the past twenty-four hours to assess the situation and show their support for the community.