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‘A true four-legged warrior’: Police hail elite unit dog killed in West Bank raid

Police chief says Yamam K9 Zili, a Belgian Malinois, saved troops’ lives during gunfight with terrorists in Nablus; officials say he took part in hundreds of operations

Emanuel (Mannie) Fabian is The Times of Israel's military correspondent.

9-year-old Zili, a dog belonging to the Yamam counterterrorism police unit, in an undated photo. Zili was killed on August 9, 2022, during a raid in Nablus. (Israel Police)
9-year-old Zili, a dog belonging to the Yamam counterterrorism police unit, in an undated photo. Zili was killed on August 9, 2022, during a raid in Nablus. (Israel Police)

A dog belonging to the elite Yamam counterterrorism police unit was killed by Palestinian terrorists during a gunbattle in the West Bank city of Nablus on Tuesday morning, Israel Police said.

During the raid, three Palestinian gunmen were killed, including a wanted terrorist who was responsible for several shooting attacks against Israeli soldiers and civilians in the West Bank, according to the military.

The nine-year-old Belgian Malinois, Zili, was sent into the home which troops had surrounded in the Nablus Old City, but was killed. The canine’s corpse was later retrieved by troops, and will be buried at a military dog cemetery.

According to police, Zili participated in hundreds of Yamam operations in recent years, including capturing a Palestinian man who later pleaded guilty to the murder and rape of Israeli teen Ori Ansbacher in Jerusalem in 2019.

Zili at the time was sent into a building in the Ramallah area and held Arafat Irfayia until Yamam officers arrived to arrest him.

“This morning he likely saved the lives of the fighters,” police chief Kobi Shabtai said in a statement, adding that Zili was a “true four-legged warrior.”

Smoke rises above buildings during an Israeli army operation in the West Bank city of Nablus, August 9, 2022. (AP Photo/Majdi Mohammed)

Prime Minister Yair Lapid, who spoke with the Yamam unit’s commander, said “Zili was part of the unit, beloved and professional.”

“He will be missed by the unit, he will be missed by the dog handlers and the fighters he accompanied repeatedly in operational activity,” Lapid added, in a statement provided by his office.

Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades commander Ibrahim Nabulsi, and another two terror operatives were killed during Tuesday morning’s operation in Nablus.

Nabulsi was part of a squad that had committed several shooting attacks against soldiers and civilians in the West Bank earlier this year, according to the Shin Bet. The IDF said that included a shooting attack at the Joseph’s Tomb complex in the outskirts of Nablus.

In separate raids across the West Bank overnight, troops detained four wanted Palestinians, the IDF said Tuesday morning.

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