Not “just” a dog

Not all IDF soldiers are human.

Zili was a combat dog, considered one of the best. Zili took part in hundreds of critical counterterrorism operations, including in 2019 when he entered a multi-story building in Ramallah, found and overpowered the terrorist who murdered Ori Ansbacher.

On August 9th, Zili was killed by gunfire during the raid in Shechem to apprehend Fatah al-Aksa Brigade terrorists holed up in a building. Three, including wanted terrorist, Ibrihim al-Nabulsi, were killed in the intense shootout. The details of a special-ops mission are never disclosed in their entirety but sometimes the small details revealed hint at bigger drama. About Zili’s death those who paid attention read that terrorists abused his body after his death and that he was given a proper burial in the cemetery for IDF service dogs. We weren’t told about the stages in between – the soldiers who put an end to the abuse, took him home and laid him to rest.  

Heroism, untold – to honor a dog.

There are some people, including one of warrior-dog Zili’s first trainers, who are criticizing the amount of attention and sorrow expressed at his death. Specifically, the complaint is: Yes, Zili was a great dog. Yes, he did important things and saved Israeli lives. At the same time, he’s just a dog. What about the Gazan children who were killed in this last mini-war, Operation “Breaking Dawn”? They are humans and their lives should be valued, we should be upset at their deaths, especially in comparison to that of a dog.”

I thought about this and came to the following conclusions:

1. Human lives need to be placed at a higher value than that of animals. So called “eco-warriors” who place animals or nature above humans are (perhaps unwittingly) inventing a value system that is anti-human and anti Judeo-Christian values.

2. It is terrible that innocent Gazan children were killed. It would have been better if they lived out the glorious potential of a human being

3. Responsibility and circle of influence are key here – My people are responsible for the lives of MY people. Israel is responsible for protecting the lives of her citizens from those who want to murder us. We cannot control Gazan society. We cannot determine who their role models are or what they value. The fact that their society is geared to create dead Jews rather than successful and happy Arabs is terrible but not in our control.

We can and do everything possible to avoid collateral damage, but it is not possible to prevent this 100%, particularly when terrorists use children as human shields. We also cannot prevent the damage caused when the rockets aimed at us misfire and kill their own.

4. Zili was a dog but this is not the same as being “just a dog”. He was a warrior that fought alongside human warriors protecting Israeli men, women, and children. Zili saved Israeli lives and that is something worth honoring. Zili died in battle because our enemies knew that he was one of us and they want us dead.

Honoring Zili is a recognition of the highest value of the sanctity of life. It is not that we mourn a dog more than we mourn children. It is that those who protect us deserve to be honored and elicit grief more than those who belong to the group of people who wish us dead. One group is our responsibility and deserves our loyalty and care. The other does not. There is no moral fault here, there is a basic instinct for survival and understanding of where our responsibility lies.

We fully recognize that children are not at fault for being born into a society that is basically a death cult. We consider and uphold the sanctity of life – including those of our enemies. At the same time, our highest responsibility is to first protect ourselves and our own.

That is why we honor Zili, a dog who was much more than “just a dog”.

2 thoughts on “Not “just” a dog

  1. Absolutely not just a dog. The bond between dog and his human “partner” goes deep and my heart goes out to the soldier who has lost his loyal friend. These animals have over the years saved many lives.
    One of the times my then Naval Commando (Shayetet) son went into Jenin, one of the combat dogs was killed and there was no doubt that had he not been there one of the team would have lost their lives. (On another mission the 22 year old officer leading the team was tragically killed; that time they didn’t have dogs with them)


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