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An image of a dead dog in a military-style equipment harness is being used to claim the Israeli military is sending canines strapped with explosives into Hamas tunnels in Gaza.
The claim is false. There is no evidence the dog is carrying explosives. The harness resembles the equipment rig worn by dogs of the Israeli army’s Oketz special dog unit.
The claim is made in a Facebook post (archived here) that tags animal rights organisation PETA UK. The post features a screengrab of an X post by the account “Syria Truths” that shows a dog wearing a harness with electronic equipment lying in what looks like a pool of blood.
The caption says: “Israeli military using dogs with explosives to enter tunnels in Gaza. They’ve turned innocent dogs into suicide bombers! Where’s the outrage!!”
The still is from a Hamas video purportedly showing the aftermath of a gun battle in a tunnel. The full video can be seen on Telegram.
The video caption says: “A message from a Qassam Brigades fighter after killing an Israeli special force in a tunnel: ‘This is the region, brothers! This is their blood. They were special forces. They were destroyed inside a tunnel. This is their device, This is what they carried. And this is their Dog. I swear to God their heads under our feet.'”
Qassam Brigades refers to the military wing of Hamas, Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades.
Two Arabic-speaking journalists translated the video for AAP FactCheck and said that nobody in the video makes any mention of explosives on the dog.
“Hamas soldier is saying that they did a trick to let a special Israeli army force enter into a tunnel, then they attack them, and the dog is proof of what the Israeli soldiers had left behind them,” said Iman Bark, from the Arab Fact-Checkers Network (AFCN), a fact-checking project led by the Arab Reporters for Investigative Journalism (ARIJ).
Bara-a Al-Ma’any, also from the AFCN, said: “There is nothing about ‘explosives dogs’ in the video, they only mention equipment on the dog”.
There is no claim by Hamas that the dog is wearing explosives. The dog and harness are intact.
AAP FactCheck asked Sydney-based Pro K9 Supplies, a police, military and dog sport equipment store, to review the footage.
Manager Suzanne Purcell said the harness, while not something she stocked, “looks like a standard vest set-up that is needed for the camera equipment”.
She added: “In my personal opinion these dogs are specifically bred generation after generation for such work, and once you have one fully trained they are incredibly valuable investments and I cannot imagine people sacrificing all that time and money for that purpose (carrying explosives)”.
The harness in the image looks similar to a camera kit shown on the website of a “tactical support equipment” supplier.
The Israel Defence Forces (IDF) told AAP FactCheck the claim was false. The IDF’s Oketz unit uses trained dogs for counter-terrorism, search and rescue, and locating weapons and explosives, according to the unit’s website.
A person associated with the Oketz Veterans Foundation, who asked not to be named, told AAP FactCheck the claim made no sense.
He said: “Just for sake of argument, let’s say that the K9 unit soldiers were not the animal-loving individuals that we are. From a pure tactical standpoint, why would you waste months training amazing dogs to blow themselves up? The IDF has much more efficient ways to blow things up, using missiles, bombshells, and even drones”.
Photos of dogs from the Oketz unit on the foundation’s page show harness equipment similar to that in the Facebook post.
The IDF has posted updates of recent operations of the unit to Telegram, including the following posted on January 1.
The photo of the dog in the Facebook post also appears in a separate X post making an unsupported claim that Hamas terrorists posted a video of them executing an IDF dog from the Oketz unit.
The claim that an image of a dead dog in a harness is evidence the Israeli military is strapping bombs to canines in Gaza is false.
There is no evidence of explosives in the image and neither Hamas nor Israel has suggested dogs are carrying explosives.
A dog equipment specialist told AAP FactCheck the equipment is likely part of a camera harness.
False — The claim is inaccurate