JERUSALEM – The belt strapped onto the donkey's body was laden with explosives, the Israeli military said in a statement. The animal was urged forward by Hamas militants, the army said, toward troops stationed near Rafah, inside the Gaza Strip.
Israeli forces "engaged the donkey and it exploded at a safe distance,” the army wrote in a blog post. The statement condemned the use of “animals as explosives couriers.”
Such beast-borne attacks have been seen before within the bitter confines of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The first such incident appears to have been in Gaza in 1995. But there were frequent attempt during the second intifada, or Palestinian uprising, which raged from from 2000 to 2005.
In 2009, militants approached the Karni crossing between Gaza and Israel with several horses carrying explosives. And in May 2010 a donkey with a cart of explosives was detonated near the border fence. Israel's military said soldiers have also reported incidents where militants have strapped explosive belts to dogs.
In Afghanistan, there were several instances of suicide donkeys sent by the Taliban to attack British and U.S. troops stationed in the country. And almost exactly a year ago, a suicide bomber riding a donkey killed three NATO soldiers in Wardak province.
Earlier this week a rocket from Gaza into Israel killed scored a direct hit on a cowshed, killing some 30 cows in a small Israeli farming community just across the border. The death of almost this entire herd went largely unreported in Israel and abroad, even though those who cared of the animals said they were traumatized by the sight of so much blood and carnage.