A Palestinian burns his donkey on the street. Image Credit: Supplied

Ramallah: A Palestinian man set his donkey on fire in the town of Beit Kahel, north of Hebron in the West Bank, in an act condemned by a rights group and largely ignored by the authorities.

The Palestinian Wildlife Association has lodged a complaint against the owner and is urging the Palestinian police and other law enforcement authorities to bring the punitive measures against him.

The donkey’s owner claims that his motive for this treatment was the animal’s lack of responsiveness to his orders. Residents managed to save the animal by extinguishing the fire, but the poor donkey was already badly hurt.

“None of the town’s residents are willing to register a complaint, as this could spark personal and family disputes in the area,” said Ebrahim Odeh, undersecretary of the Palestinian Wildlife Association.

Odeh noted that a draft of an animal protection law has been lying in the drawers of the Palestinian Ministry of Agriculture for the past year. “This proves without a doubt that the Palestinian government is not interested in the treatment of animals,” he charged. “Had there been a strict law that criminalises inhumane acts against animals, someone like the Beit Kahel donkey owner would not have dared to burn the animal on the street in the first place. A prison term and hefty fine would have deterred him.

“We have launched an animal care division at the Wildlife Association as an urgently needed body to advocate for the rights of animals in Palestine,” Odeh told Gulf News.

“In this country, we deal with a shocking number of cat and dog hangings, and the number of cruel acts against animals in general has risen sharply.”

Odeh noted that his association does not have the capability to deal with these challenges or the devastating lack of public awareness regarding animal rights. “The government needs to step in, with a helping hand from the NGOs,” he said. “We need animal care laws, and we need them now.”

Though the donkey so cruelly mistreated did not die initially, Gulf News has learnt that villagers subsequently dumped it in the garbage, where it is believed to have died later.

No case of cruelty to animals has ever been either investigated or led to prosecution in Palestine.