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26 Feb, 2009 06:05

Israeli police dog attacks centenarian

A 99-year-old Palestinian man is recovering in hospital after being attacked by Israeli army dogs. The pensioner's ear and shoulder were bitten as he lay in bed when soldiers conducted a house search.

Salem Buni Uda, the man in question, lives in the Palestinian village of Tamoun in the West Bank city of Jenin.

Israeli soldiers on patrol are a common sight there. More often than not, they bring with them man’s best friend when carrying out arrests. Dozens of well trained dogs are used by the Israeli army to search for wanted Palestinian militants.

The method is not foolproof, however.

“I’m a hundred years old, what did they want from me? The ferocious dogs attacked me and ate my ears and shoulders. Now I can’t move,” Salem Buni Uda said.

He says he was in bed when soldiers surrounded his house. He says he was bitten repeatedly and taken to hospital with a gash to his left ear.

“Israeli soldiers entered the town and gathered us together. The dog bit my grandfather while he was sleeping. It happened in front of the soldiers,” said his grandson Yasser Salem.

In a statement the Israeli army said it called on everyone to leave the house – but because Salem was still inside, he was bitten by the dog.

The Israel Defense Forces have for years been using dogs in their search and arrest operations.

Now there is a debate in Israel about whether or not it’s ethical for the country to use dogs in its fight against terrorism. For some Jews, especially the elderly, the sight of aggressive police dogs brings back painful memories of the Holocaust, when Nazi guards used dogs to intimidate, maim or kill.