A Dutch company has agreed to compensate a Palestinian who was seriously injured by the attack dogs it supplied to the Israeli military.
The company agreed to pay an undisclosed amount to Abu Hashem towards his recovery although it continues to deny legal liability because the Israeli army trained the dogs.
Four Winds K9 “regrets the incident” and the damage done and considers the payment a “gesture of good will,” according to Dutch newspaper NRC.
This is “the first time a Dutch firm has paid for violence in the occupied Palestinian territories,” Abu Hashem’s lawyer Liesbeth Zegveld told the newspaper.
On 23 December 2014, Abu Hashem suffered serious injuries when he was attacked by two Israeli army dogs.
There had been confrontations between Israeli occupation forces and residents of Abu Hashem’s village of Beit Ommar in an area where Palestinian youths frequently protested the seizure of the village’s land for the nearby settlement of Karmei Tzur.
According to the brief from Abu Hashem’s lawyers, Israeli soldiers arrived with two canines and unleashed them on the youths.
The dogs chased Abu Hashem and grabbed him in a yard between two houses.
The dogs bit Abu Hashem multiple times in his legs, arms and shoulder.
Part of the attack was caught on video and published by the Israeli human rights group B’Tselem.
In the video, the soldiers can be heard taunting Abu Hashem as the dogs bite him and he cries out in pain.
After watching the video, Four Winds K9 director Tonny Boeijen confirmed to NRC in 2015 that the dogs were supplied by his company.
Four Winds K9 has provided the Israeli army with dozens of dogs trained to attack civilians for more than 20 years.
Such dogs “are intentionally used by Israeli occupying forces to terrorize and bite Palestinian civilians, especially during protests and night house raids,” Shawan Jabarin, director of the human rights group Al-Haq, wrote to Dutch ministers in 2015.
The dog attacks breach Israel’s obligations under the Fourth Geneva Convention to protect civilians in occupied territory, Abu Hashem’s lawyers Liesbeth Zegveld and Lisa Komp of human rights law firm Prakken d’Oliveira argued in the lawsuit.
The company knew or should have known that the Israeli army regularly unleashed its dogs against Palestinian civilians in the West Bank.
Four Winds K9 has an “independent duty of care” to ensure that it does not contribute to injuring Palestinian civilians including Abu Hashem, the lawsuit argued.
That is why they demanded damages for Abu Hashem.
They also demanded that the Dutch firm be prohibited from supplying dogs to the Israeli army. But the settlement between Abu Hashem and Four Winds K9 means that no court will rule on that demand.
In June 2016, Four Winds K9 announced that it was no longer providing Israel with “biting dogs,” but only tracking hounds.
But according to a statement from the company sent to The Electronic Intifada this week, Four Winds K9 continues to sell untrained puppies to the Israeli military.
“These puppies are sold to the IDF and trained by them,” the company states.
There is therefore no guarantee that dogs provided by Four Winds K9 will not be used in future to terrorize Palestinians.