The Israel Dog Unit (IDU), a Samaria-based nonprofit specializing in training and deploying working dogs, has entered into a joint initiative to save lives together with the civilian security coordinators and emergency responders from kibbutzim near the Jordanian border.
The meeting in Kibbutz Ashdot Yaakov, which hosted the IDU last night seeking help from the organization, was far remove from the political tensions surrounding election day and focused on the potential for cooperation. The kibbutzim seek to protect the Jordan Valley region and to create a force of trained working dogs to rescue missing people.
The Jordan Valley is known to Israel’s security forces as a common point of entry for smugglers moving firearms, drugs, and other contraband into Israel. Earlier today (Monday) security forces prevented the passage of dozens of handguns through the area.
Aside from criminal activity, the Jordan Valley is also considered a volatile region of the country with a high potential for terrorist action. In September, a shooting attack on a bus full of soldiers left several injured and nearly ended with the bus going up in flames. Yesterday (Sunday), five were injured in a car ramming attack at two separate junctions in the region. A recent record number of warnings of impending terrorist attacks makes the pilot program’s security aspects take on an unprecedented urgency.
Regional safety concerns for the Jordan Valley are not exclusively made of human elements. The area is part of the African-Arabian rift system, among the world’s largest tectonic rifts, and population centers located in the valley are at extreme risk in the case of an earthquake. Located in such an isolated region of Israel, kibbutzim struck by an earthquake may need to be able to provide essential rescue services for themselves for some time before official forces can make their way to the scene. The IDU’s working dog curriculum will allow participating kibbutzim to prepare themselves with a dog specifically trained to direct rescuers to victims trapped under rubble or lost in the harsh terrain of the Jordan Valley, saving critical time in extracting them from a collapsed building.
IDU director Yekutiel Ben-Yaakov commented: “We thank the civilian security coordinators from the Jordan Valley and Miki Harel, head of the town emergency squad from Ashdot Ya’akov, for this blessed initiative. The IDU is happy to add the twenty-two kibbutzim in the area to its national project, in the framework of which the IDU establishes response apparatus in different regions of the country, in cooperation with councils, municipalities, and kibbutzim, to equip them with dogs and give them training that will be able to save lives both in the field of rescue and in the field of defense."