Monday, May 30, 2016

I.D.U. - The Israel Dog Unit deploys new dogs

I.D.U deploys new dogs with their new handlers

Over recent weeks The I.D.U. - Israel Dog Unit has commenced training of a dozen new handlers, some of whom have already received service dogs and deployed them in their yishuvim - towns.

Rooky, a beautiful Mallinois Shepherd that we recently imported from Holland, trained for patrol work, has been placed with Louis on the Tapuach Hill. Shalom, of Itamar has recently received Rick, a Belgium Shepherd from the Czech Republic.

In Bat Ayin, Hershkow exhibits attack work with "Chomper" 8 month old pup

Rabbi Gadi Shalvin of Maalot David, on Har Hazeitim (near Maaleh Zeitim) received Liz, a German Shepherd that we also imported recently from Europe.
Rabbi Shalvin and some of his kids with "Liz" their new protection dog

Elaad from Kochav Yaakov, received "Nes", a German Shepherd trained for patrol work. Elaad serves as a member of the emergency response team of Kochav Yaakov. Tony in Elaazar received Ugree, a dog that was born in our Tapuach training program and trained for defense work. Yosef of Avinadav, in the outskirts of Jerusalem received Zoma a dog bred in our Tapuach breeding program and trained for SAR- Search and Rescue by Caryn and Nachshon of our Sdei Bar Branch.

Caryn Yavin our dog-trainer from Sde Bar hands "Zoma" to Yosef -, his new handler 

 Nitai from Itamar’s Hitsim Yeshiva, who resides in Shevut Rachel, near Shilo is due to receive "Bongo" another Mallinois SAR dog that was born in Tapuach in our own breeding program and trained in Tapuach. Raffi, Natan and Azarya all from the hills of Itamar have also entered into our defense-dog training program with their own dogs. This is only a partial list.


More than 40 people are "knocking down our doors," competing to receive one of our 6 new pups

The pups when they were newly born to "Sven" and "Tiger"

Our new pups that were bred from our top two service dogs are in heavy demand. More than 40 people are competing to be one of the six lucky handlers to adopt one of our new pups designated to become defense or Search and Rescue Dogs. There are only 6 pups, 3 male and 3 female in this stunning litter.

It seems that 16 years of serving the Jewish community by providing excellent dogs, and training them for active service has left an imprint on the Israeli Security and Rescue Industry. It is evident from the huge demand for our pups that our name precedes us throughout the land. Top trainers have called, eager to purchase pups from our blood-line of service dogs. Security Chiefs from Judea and Samaria are waiting on line to receive a pup. Policeman, IDF soldiers, border policeman and fire-fighters have shown great interest. And the list goes on. The pups are now almost 6 weeks old and almost ready to be stationed with their handlers to enter into our training program. These four-legged heroic soldiers will, G-d willing, develop into adult dogs that will play a role in protecting and rescuing many Jews in Israel.

Some will be security dogs while others will work to find missing people or victims trapped under
buildings that could collapse, G-d forbid, as a result of earthquakes, missile attacks or gas explosions, etc.

Recent training at a simulated earthquake site. Experts predict Israel could be in for a major earthquake in the near future.
Naturally we will try to deploy the pups with the most serious handlers who will pledge to properly maintain the dogs and who will be most committed and dedicated to the cause of operating a service dog with the intention of saving lives in Israel.

To join the Israel dog unit or to help sponsor dogs and their volunteer handlers, please call us in Israel 0544876709 or in on our U.S. phone number 9174750789. Contributions can be sent to "Maginei Eretz LMaan Hazulat" POBox 6592 Jerusalem, Israel.

The Lost Jews of Israel - Diary of a missing person - Igor Vareby

Diary of a Missing Person – The Lost Jews of Israel – Igor Vareby, still at large 

IDU poster with photo of Igoir Vareby - please help circulate online and offline
The gas station where we set up camp, near the place where we had found Meir Levy
I write this summary of the log of our search for Igor Vareby from the Yovel Delek Gas Station on Moshe Dayan Street that sits on the border of Bat Yam and Holon, Israel. This gas station is a nostalgic one for The I.D.U. Israel Dog Unit. It was near here two years ago where we found Meir Levy’s body a week after he was murdered by Erez Shmeil, a professional soccer player with Beitar-Jaffa. Meir Levy was a well-known philanthropic money-changer who had loaned 300,000 shekels to Shmeil. Shmeil was convicted of shooting Levy to death and then chucking his body several hundred yards south of this gas station, hidden under a plank in a vacant lot. It was a miracle that we found Levy. Had we listened to the police, Levy’s body most likely would never have been recovered.

Meir Levy

The cops were wrong again, and no riches, but at least some pizza for the hungry volunteers
The police tried to dissuade us from searching the area that they had supposedly searched thoroughly prior.  That did not stop the cops from taking credit for the find. What else is new? That’s all history now. Levy’s nephew promised to sponsor our dog in a huge way. I still remember his promise: “Never Again will you guys drive around in these jalopies." We still have the same old cars, but at least he did buy the volunteers pizza and fill up the cars with gas after we helped find his uncle Meir. This was particularly appreciated, at the time, in view of the fact that the guys were famished and we did not have money to  fuel the cars up to get back to Tapuach that night.

The gas station owner should be commended – for letting us turn his place into our base of operations
Now, we return again to the area to search for Igor Vareby. Moe-mie, the gas station owner is kind enough to let us set up our Command Center here. We found a nice shady spot for our van and mobile-mini-kennel right across from the table I sit at which has a convenient umbrella to shade the computer and maps, and a socket to plug our electrical gadgets into. And let’s not forget restrooms and other conveniences that we often lack at our make-shift search-command-centers. Moe-mie was thrilled to partake in the mitzvah-good deed of helping us with the search by providing table, chair and parking space for our big van and kennel-wagon. He asked if we could find him a retired service dog that he could adopt. I promised Moe-mie that we would have him in mind when we pass on our next retired  dog. I took Moe-mie’s number and gave him my card. I have a feeling we might need to call him not only to give him a dog that’s ready for pension, and not only to use his gas station as a base of operations on this search for Igor Vareby. Something tells me that the little jungle behind his gas station might be a place where we will need to search for others in the future.

HaYovel Delek Gas Station - where we set up camp - May 29

We widen the search
It is now 7 PM, Sunday May 29th L'minyanam. I am waiting for our two search teams to return. Aryeh and Akiva are searching with "Milo", a very sharp cadaver dog. (At the time I thought they were with Milo, I later learned that they thought the terrain could be covered fine without a dog). There are large areas behind the gas station in the direction of Rishon LTziyon, with a swamp, trees and all kinds of rough brush and terrain. Israel is a unique land to search in. Urban searches turn into forest-like terrain in a matter of meters. Right behind a train station and a highway you can find a mini-jungle. The area is approximately 1000-1500 yards away from Eli Cohen Street where Igor’s home is.

Ephraim L is searching another area by bike within 1000 yard radius of Igor’s home, looking for any building sites or abandoned homes where Igor could be. Ephraim L recently finished his army service. I don’t know what we would do without Ephraim. He drives the truck to most searches. He is a talented and skilled navigator. Without Ephraim we would probably end up spending most of our time searching for our own volunteers, who would likely get lost themselves while searching for our missing people. In fact, I am embarrassed to admit that Ephraim led such a rescue team to find me and a few others, a few weeks back when we ended up losing our way in the Northern Shomron, in the Henanit Forest while looking for a jogger who got lost, near an Arab village. Nes, the tracking dog helped track me down when Ephraim L and Paul gave him my spare pair of shoes that were left behind in the car. At least we now know Nes, the tracking dog that we recently imported from Holland indeed tracks well. She led them right to Louis, myself and the clueless cop that joined us on that search.

Receiving an award from the Haifa police for finding a missing person there.

Igor Vareby and Eli Cohen Street
Igor Vareby left his house Thursday May 19th at 5 AM and was never seen again. He left his cellular phone, wallet, cash, car keys and a letter on his kitchen table. Igor was 47 when he left his elderly mother in their shared apartment on Eli Cohen Street in Bat Yam. Eli Cohen is more than just a street in every town in Israel. Eli Cohen was a legendary and heroic Israeli spy. Ironically Eli Cohen's name  was mentioned in the media yesterday, as news surfaced about allegations that Israel was holding an Iranian general kidnapped 30 years ago in Lebanon. Some reports claimed that Israel was currently holding behind-the-scenes negotiations to exchange the old, Iranian general with Eli Cohen’s body believed to be held by Syria. Eli Cohen would also be the name of one of the cops who almost arrested Ephraim L - one of our searchers on this search - more on that debacle, later.  It seems that not only streets in Israel are named after Eli Cohen but many people are also named after this national hero. One of our noble volunteers searching for Igor of Eli Cohen Street, would soon be detained by Eli Cohen, the cop. Eli Cohen, the spy, not the cop, was a famous Israeli spy who had penetrated the highest echelons of the Syrian government and military. His cover was blown and he was killed by the Syrians. Cohen's body was never recovered, despite Israel’s efforts. Now we are trying our best to recover Igor’s body and the last place we know he was seen was on Eli Cohen Street.

Eli Cohen, caught spying for Israel in Damascus
I am sorry to say it – but the police seemed to have messed this one up miserably
Had the police or the family phoned us that morning when Igor went missing, we likely could have tracked the initial direction that Igor walked in with our newly trained tracking dogs. Unfortunately we were not called in until four days later. And even then, police blunders led us to turn around after the cops erroneously reported that our Igor had been found. They mistook him for another missing person.
Valuable days were lost in the search that should have been for Igor. Police waited days before they declared Igor to be a missing person in high risk. This case should have sounded an immediate mental-alarm at police headquarters. Igor, 47, had a serious argument with his brother the night before he went missing. The argument was “about money” that Igor owed to his brother Slava. Igor left his documents, passport, wallet, money and phone on his kitchen table. He also left his brother a letter apologizing for all of the sorrow that he had caused him and stating that his brother would no longer have to worry about him causing any more problems.  At 5 AM Igor sent a text message to his 2 daughters, writing how much he loved them. He then sent another message to his brother Slava, again reiterating how sorry he was. He placed the phone on the table and left, never to be seen again. As we later would learn when meeting Igor’s landlord, the day before he disappeared he left a post-dated check for 2915 shekels to cover past monies owed and next month’s rent.

Important background information is learned piece by piece
I asked Slova, Igor’s brother if he had any relatives buried in the nearby cemetery, which is always a good place to search. Often people contemplating suicide first visit a loved one’s grave and start their journey from that spot. They are often found dead or injured overlooking the grave of a loved one. Let us remember, many people leave in a fit of rage with intent to harm themselves, but if given the opportunity they calm down and hesitate to make that final step of suicide. Often enough people can be found and saved to yet live long and happy lives. However, sometimes in their rage and anger they can find themselves deep in a wooded area, injured, dehydrated etc..How many nooses around necks have we found, with the obvious signs that the person tried to fight off his own suicide. We had a case in Ashdod where you can see the hands between the noose and the neck with the person unsuccessfully trying to fight his way free. Many suicide victims have second thoughts.

It is our job to find these missing people as quickly as we can. In many cases we have found the people when it was already too late. This, too, is a great mitzvah-good deed to at least recover the body while the body is still whole. Slovic replied, “Come to think of it our dad is buried in Russia, He died at the young age of 47. Igor is the same age now.  In fact dad’s birthday was May 22.  Igor had said that he would likely die the same age as dad, and that he would likely be dead by dad’s birthdate.” Igor disappeared 3 days prior to his dad’s birthday. This was being told to me Wednesday May 25th. It became clear to me that we are looking for someone who planned to never again return home again. Even if he was only injured in the wild, or in a nearby deserted building or near a local swamp, he would have had little chance surviving through the extremely hot days that followed his disappearance. How long could he last without water? Perhaps 2 days in that intense heat. We started the search with cadaver dogs 6 days after Igor had disappeared.

It is neglected cases like this when we at I.D.U. are most needed
It is frustrating to know that it is possible that Igor could have been found alive or effectively tracked had we known about the case earlier. However, it gets more frustrating. We initially learned about the case on Monday, 4-5 days after he went missing. The police published an ad on the official police website asking for the public to help locate him. We were unsuccessful in reaching the investigator in charge of the search, or the number published on the police ad. There was no active search as far as we could tell. I had no idea where to start. I called the police and many contacts in the police and IDF, to no avail. Nobody was home. Despite the lack of information I felt that this was a case we had to work on. It seemed nobody else cared and that this case had fallen between the chairs, a Russian immigrant without much family and no political connections, coupled by police laziness or incompetency, or both. On Tuesday I decided to go to Eli Cohen Street to seek out potential family members. I had no clue where to start.

Man plans and G-d laughs.
Tuesday we got called elsewhere. Tuesday May 24th, the Jerusalem police called us to the capital to help search for Abir, a teen who went missing and whose phone indicated that he was in a nearby forest. Abir, the missing teen could more likely be found alive. We went to look for Abir in Jerusalem, with intent to continue on to Holon-Bat Yam to look for Igor if and when Abir would be found. In the meantime perhaps we could yet hear back from the Bat Yam police and get some clues regarding Igor Vareby. In the end, the Jerusalem teen was found in Tel Aviv. Tuesday afternoon after hearing of Abir being found, we started off for Holon-Bat Yam to finally commence the search for Igor, only to be told that he, too, had already been found alive and well. Great news, we thought. We can now head home to Tapuach and get some well-needed rest. Early Wednesday morning, May 25th I learned that the police had made a grave mistake. The missing person they found was not Igor, but another missing person. Wednesday morning we set off to search for Igor. Where do we start?

Where do we start?
We arrived at Eli Cohen 2, searching for the name Varebi on the mail boxes. We put together a nice team to search for him. Ephraim L came with me from Tapuach with an impressive fleet of dogs. Aryeh, a righteous and well-seasoned dog handler who is currently serving in the IDF gets 4 days off every 21 days. He is currently stationed on the Gaza border, and joined us directly from the front. He begins his 4 day vacation by jumping into the thick of the search in Bat Yam. Not only that, he recruited Rachamim, one of his army buddies, who is also on leave and who lives nearby to join in the search. Edan, another young volunteer linked to Barel, a jeep brigade that helps look for missing people also joined us, as did Yair Maimon - the head of Barel, later in the day. And Gideon, Arye’s dad, the “pilot” of our drone who heads our branch in Sde Bar joined us with the drone, to help cover open areas nearby.

Gideon's son Shimon, flying the drone on a training exercise.

 Dov, a retired fellow who is well versed in the area at hand and who has a well-needed 4x4 jeep, also, later joined us.

Eden posing with "Jill"

Eli Cohen Street number 2 has three buildings and entrances. Each of the buildings stands 4-5 floors high with a total of 8-10 apartments in each building. None of them have a mail box that reads Varebi. The phone number we received from the Israeli information operator did not seem to reach anyone either. The police had yet to respond to my many inquiries. I saw the name Rebi on one mail box. We dashed up the stairs. Maybe Rebi was Varebi. Maybe the police made a mistake. Perhaps part of the name was cut off of the mail box. A woman answers the door. I ask, “Varebi?” I show the woman the picture. She says tensely, “I know nothing. If he lives anywhere it would be upstairs. Maybe I saw him on the stairwell once. Maybe I gave him his mail once.” It was obvious that she knew exactly who we were talking about. He had lived in the apartment one floor above her for the last 7 years. She was clearly not telling the truth. She assumed we were police and she, is no doubt, one of those people that does not want to get involved. Fair enough. We head up to the top apartments and found Igor’s mom Tamila. Tamila, an elderly woman spoke no Hebrew and just wept crying for Igor. I called Ephraim K, a Russian speaker currently designing a special application to help manage searches. He could help translate. Tamila put us in touch with Igor’s brother Slovic. Slovic was not of much help at this stage, however, he did tell us a bit about Igor’s profile, the trigger for the disappearance, as well as a good spot to start our search-  an open area with trees where he could be hiding or where he could have harmed himself, off the beaten track – nearby, not frequented by many people. This was the only area known to Slova where Igor would meditate and walk his dog that he once had. That was the first area we searched.

Back Again – 10 days after Igor disappeared – Still no clues
Here we are again searching for Igor. It is now Sunday May 29. It is 8 PM the guys are back at the command center in the gas station and we covered important ground today, but we have yet to recover the body. Tomorrow is another day. If we are not called out for something urgent, we may continue back here to cover more ground and hopefully to recover Igor’s body to bring him to a Jewish burial and to bring closure to his family. If we do not search for him, I fear that nobody else will. In a matter of days his body might be eaten by wild animals, G-d forbid.

The Keystone cops almost arrest one of our volunteers.
Ironically Ephraim L almost got arrested today searching in a huge abandoned building. No less than 5 policemen converged upon him. “What are you doing here? We have no report of a missing person.” Keystone cops indeed. Ephraim in his broken Hebrew urged the cops to call me. I cleared it all up. To think how many cops they have to engage in a false arrest. Yet no cops to look for this poor soul or to have started the search when he still could have been found alive. The police are the ones who are legally responsible to lead the searches for missing people, according to Israeli law. No search. Not even to have a photo of this current missing person in the patrol cars? Sad and shameful.

Join us - 
If you wish to get involved with the Israel Dog Unit as a volunteer or as a sponsor, feel free to email me at

At a police command center in a recent search near Tiberias
Some volunteers dorm in our facilities in Tapuach and spend part of their time working or studying. Some of our volunteers join us before, during and after their army service. Some volunteers come weekly for training or for search missions. We also run a defense program where we breed, train and provide dogs to help protect “settlements”. Never a dull moment with the Israel Dog Unit. A most meaningful tour of duty in the battle to rescue Jews in Israel. We always need good volunteers and we always need financial help to sponsor the dogs, the training, the volunteers, and the searches.
I can be reached in Israel 0544876709 

or on my U.S. phone number: 917475 0789

Donations can be sent to "Maginei Eretz L'Maan Hazulat" POBox 6592 Jerusalem Israel.