A former IDF dog handler shared Wednesday a tirade on Facebook blasting Israeli media for what he considered lopsided coverage of an Israel Police dog he trained that was killed during a raid in the West Bank compared with coverage of civilians killed in the Gaza Strip during the latest round of fighting between the Jewish state and Palestinian militants.
In the post, Ben Zilberstein shares his frustration with the massive attention the death of the dog Zili, who is named after him, has garnered compared with the scant interest Israeli media and politicians expressed in civilian deaths in Gaza.
“A slain Israeli dog that’s killed receives more media coverage than a five-year-old girl killed in Gaza,” he wrote. “The death of a five-year-old girl saddens me, the indifference toward her death saddens me."
Zili, a 9-year-old Belgian Malinois, was shot and killed by Palestinian gunmen after he was sent to look for a terror suspect barricading himself in a Nablus home. The suspect, Ibrahim al-Nablusi, was also killed in a three-hour siege of the building along with two other Palestinian gunmen.
Top Israeli officials, from Police Commissioner Kobi Shabtai to Prime Minister Yair Lapid, hailed Zili for his years of service, with the former dubbing the fallen canine a "four-legged hero".
“The number of references to him in the media (from the prime minister down to the last member of Knesset) is the equivalent to the number of messages I get offering me condolences,” Zilberstein wrote.
Zilberstein says he felt a mixed bag of sadness, pride and bitterness when he heard about Zili's death in the early Tuesday raid and the consequent media brouhaha.
“I felt mixed feelings about the whole thing, on one hand, sadness for the loss of a dog I knew since the day he was born, and pride that his name is out there and he is regarded as a 'hero'," he wrote," and on the other hand, a sense of bitterness inside. I spoke to a colleague who lives in Nablus and she told me that she did not leave her home until 12:00 for fear of the sounds of gunfire and explosions close to her house. And also, for the huge number of casualties in the activities of the security forces.
An elderly woman, who is a very close friend of mine who lives under occupation and fears leaving her home, pinches my heart more than a dog who was killed in a military operation. I loved Zili. And I know he did plenty of good to keep me and my friends safe. Even now – I hope he’s helping me put a spotlight on an important issue I wish more people would talk about, an issue I hope would help keep me and my friends safe in the future.”