Israel: More coverage of army dog ​​KIA than death of Palestinian girl

  • Former IDF soldier Ben Silberstein trained a dog named Zilli and died in a firefight with Palestinian militants.
  • Silberstein took to Facebook to remember the dog, but also to highlight the death of a Palestinian girl.
  • “An Israeli dog killed gets more media attention than a 5-year-old Palestinian girl killed in Gaza,” he said.

Zilli was a nine-year-old male Belgian Malinois who served with Israel’s elite Yamam counter-terrorism police unit.

The dog has been on duty in hundreds of operations, local reports say, but last week was his last mission. Zilli was killed in a shootout in Nablus in the West Bank earlier this week.

Zilli’s unit exchanged fire with three suspected Palestinian militants, including Ibrahim Nabulsi, 26, a wanted senior member of the Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, according to the BBC.

Nabulsi was killed along with two other militants and 40 Palestinians were injured. The dog was the only reported causal link in Israel.

His bravery was praised in Israel. “Zilly was part of the squad, valued and professional. He will be missed by the squad, dog handlers and fighters he accompanied on numerous operational missions,” Prime Minister Yair Lapid said in a statement, according to i24 News.

Ben Silberstein, 29, the former IDF soldier who trained Zilli, his namesake, took to Facebook to remember the dog and also highlight the moral ambiguity of treating a dog’s death in the larger context of Israel’s civilian casualties -Palestine conflict.

“I have to admit that I initially had mixed feelings about the story – on the one hand, sadness at the loss of a dog I knew from the day he was born, and pride that his name is being shared by so many people and mentioned as a “hero,” he wrote.

But he added: “I’m really a dog’s person, but I’m also a people’s person. The death of a 5-year-old girl saddens me, the indifference to her death saddens me.”

Silberstein was apparently referring to the death of five-year-old Alaa Kadum, who was playing outside a relative’s home in the Gaza Strip when an Israeli airstrike hit the street and killed her, The New York Times reported.

She was one of the victims of the latest clash earlier this month between Israel and Palestinian militants based in the Gaza Strip. It started when Israeli forces killed the commander of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad. The militants responded by firing hundreds of rockets at Israel, most of them shot down by the Iron Dome defense system.

After three days of fighting, 49 Palestinian civilians were killed. Thirty were killed in Israeli strikes, including 17 civilians, including three girls, one boy and four women. Missile Palestinian rocket launches killed 19, including 12 children, according to a Haaretz report.

“The reality we live in is a reality that an Israeli dog killed gets more media coverage than a 5-year-old Palestinian girl killed in Gaza,” he wrote on Facebook.

“I loved Zilly,” Silberstein wrote, “I know he did a lot of good things to protect me and my friends, both in and out of the military. Even now – I hope that it helps me raise an important issue for me to discuss and that I hope it will protect me and my friends even better in the future. May his memory be blessed.”

“She was an innocent little girl”

The grandfather of Palestinian girl Ala Kadum carries her body in Gaza City on August 5, 2022.

The grandfather of Palestinian girl Alaa Kadum carries her body to Gaza City. August 5.

Ashraf Amra/Reuters

Alaa Kadum was killed at around 16:30 on August 5 by an Israeli airstrike in the Shujaiya neighborhood of Gaza City.

Alaa died instantly when shrapnel hit her forehead, chest and right leg, Mohammed Abu Selmeye, director of Al Shifa Hospital, told Middle East Eye.

“She was an innocent little girl,” her grandfather said, according to The New York Times. “Was it firing rockets along the border? He was a child who wanted to see his whole life ahead of him.”

We must humanize the victims to end the conflict, says former IS soldier

Speaking to Insider, Silberstein said he made his Facebook post to draw attention to what he believes needs to be done to end the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

“We need to talk about the victims of this conflict on both sides,” he said. “If it’s a dog, if it’s a five-year-old child from Gaza, or an Israeli soldier, an Israeli civilian or a Palestinian civilian. I think we need to talk more about this, it’s the only way to achieve reconciliation between the two peoples.”

He added that it is important to focus on what it means to live in the midst of constant conflict. He described communities “wounded by anxiety”, tormented by the knowledge that they or their loved ones could be killed at any moment.

Silberstein now works for the Geneva Initiative, a joint Israeli-Palestinian organization that works to end the conflict.

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