JERUSALEM (AP) _ For Palestinians, it is a slap in the face of Islam. For Jews, it is a reminder of Nazis who stormed homes and forests to search for Jews and send them to their deaths.

A Israeli proposal to use dogs in the war against Palestinian terrorism has heated up controversy on both sides of the Arab-Israeli divide.

A series of suicide bombings, including one on Jan. 22 that killed 21 Israelis, has forced the government to consider new security measures to shield Israelis from attack.

Last week, it was a fence dividing Israel from the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

On Sunday, Police Minister Moshe Shahal said dogs would be used on patrols and at roadblocks to enforce the sealing of the West Bank and Gaza, ordered after last week's attack.

The problem of coping with suicide attackers had required some rethinking, Shahal's spokesman Rafi Levy said, and security measures ``rejected in the past because they were thought to be too harsh and extreme are now necessary.''

The plan drew immediate protests from Palestinians. There is a taboo on using dogs for crowd control in most Middle East countries, in part because Muslims believe dogs to be ``unclean.''

Sheik Ikrima Sabri, the chief Islamic cleric of Jerusalem, called it a violation of Muslim beliefs and ``inhumane.''

Saeb Erakat, a minister in the PLO autonomy government, said it was ``shameful.''

The Israeli parliament has rejected the idea in the past because Nazis used German shepherds to guard concentration camps and search for Jews hiding in homes and forests during World War II.

Dogs have been used for guard duty but rarely to control crowds or track down suspects.

Several years ago there was a public outcry after police used dogs to quell a labor strike at a factory in northern Israel. In protest, strikers donned yellow Stars of David, as Jews were forced to wear by the Nazis, and the dogs were not used after that.