Oketz (“Sting” in Hebrew) is the IDF's canine unit. It operates with specially trained dogs for missions in the field of counter-terrorism, search and rescue, and other specific purposes. The unit operates in all regions of the country. Joining the unit is voluntary and therefore soldiers undergo difficult selection and testing before joining the unit. Each dog is trained to have a specific specialty (attack, search and rescue, locating weapons, detecting explosives, etc.).
Oketz was set up in Sirkin Base in 1974, following the wave of terrorist attacks that hit Israel in the early 1970s. The unit then had just 11 soldiers. In the 1970s and 1980s, the unit participated in dozens of secret missions. It operated in total secrecy until 1988, when the unit was revealed to the public for the first time following an operation in Lebanon.
The connection between the dog and its trainer is very personal. Soldiers receive their dog during their training and spend a lot of time with the dog. The links between dogs and soldiers are very important during a military operation and are an integral part of the unit's characteristics.