Israel’s Supreme Court has banned the sale of dogs in the occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip, in an attempt to curb a rise in antisemitic violence and antisemitism.
The decision by Israel’s high court was published in the official Israeli daily Haaretz late on Tuesday and was accompanied by a long-awaited public statement from the attorney general’s office.
“This decision is aimed at preventing antisemites from using dogs to terrorize their enemies, to attack their families, to harass and intimidate,” said Avi Dichter, an Israeli human rights lawyer and a founding member of the Israel Democracy Institute.
“It is the strongest law we have ever seen against antisemite violence.”
The Supreme Court’s decision to ban the sale is likely to anger some Israelis who say the ban will only fuel antisemism.
“I am against dogs,” said Moshe Naim, a 50-year-old who is a dog breeder in the northern city of Nazareth.
“The dogs I keep are not a threat to anyone.
I would never do something against animals.”
The ban came after a spate of antisemitic attacks, including the fatal stabbing of a Jewish teacher at a Jerusalem school last month.
The Supreme Council of the Defense Forces, the military branch responsible for Israel’s military operations, issued a statement saying it had banned the use of dogs as weapons.
“The use of a dog for military purposes is prohibited, and dogs cannot be used in military operations without a permit from the commander of the area where they are used,” it said.
“If there is a chance of being attacked by a dog, it should be the dog who is attacked.”
Israeli police have said they have arrested a dozen people suspected of using dogs in attacks on Jewish targets, including a man who was killed by an attacker who attacked a synagogue in Jerusalem’s Old City in January.
Police have arrested dozens of suspected dog thieves and owners, and said they are using the courts to try and stop the practice.
The attorney general, Avi Fadlallah, said he was “deeply concerned” about antisemics using dogs for terror.
“We have not seen this kind of anti-Semitic violence in the West Bank, but it is growing in the Palestinian territories,” he said.
“I am particularly concerned by antisemitis [antisemitic incitement], which is directed against the state of Israel and against Jews.”
In a statement, Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesman Emmanuel Nahshon said the government was working on a law against antisepsis, which would prohibit “the sale, transfer, ownership, or transfer of dogs that are used to incite acts of violence”.
“The government will do all it can to prevent the spread of antisepses and other anti-Israeli hate speech and incitement,” Nahshons statement said.