Hamas this week denounced the killing of one of its divers by an Israeli-trained ‘military dolphin’. The animal was allegedly equipped with a device capable of killing the terrorist organization’s maritime teams, which posted a video showing the device.

Extremist imam Abu Hamza has posted a video alleging the existence of the ‘killer dolphins’. According to the imam, one of the members of Hamas’ “Frogman” unit was killed in May by one of the dolphins. Video of the device recently appeared on Al Quds TV, a Palestinian television station closely linked to Hamas.

Does Israel train killer dolphins?

There is no evidence that the device shown in the video belongs to Israel, nor that it was used by a dolphin. However, several sources claim the existence of a marine mammal training program by the Israeli Navy. It would not, in any case, be the first time that a country has developed such an initiative.

The harness, allegedly used by Israel, has a similar appearance to other devices used by the United States and Russia on other occasions. The Israel Defense Forces and the Mossad have never publicly acknowledged the existence of such a program, but have been the subject of multiple accusations.

A similar situation took place in 2015, when Hamas claimed to have captured a “spy dolphin” off the coast of Gaza. Hamas divers apparently spotted a dolphin equipped with a camera and harpoon and managed to capture it.

Military animals

The use of animals for warfare has become increasingly sophisticated, but has been indispensable in most wars fought in human history, from ancient Rome to World War II.
However, in recent decades, strategies have focused on the training of intelligent animals, such as dolphins or beluga whales.

One of the great experts in the field is analyst H I Sutton. In one of his posts on Covert Shores, his defense blog, Sutton explains which countries have used aquatic mammals in their military programs.

He concludes that the United States, Russia, North Korea and Israel have active marine mammal training programs. According to the report, all of these countries use dolphins, but that’s not all. Russia also trains beluga whales and seals, while the United States uses sea lions.

Military missions of the animals

Sutton also details in his article the type of missions these animals are tasked with, given their capabilities. In principle, one of the most common missions for dolphins is to “mark” potential spy divers. The dolphin does not have the ability to differentiate an ally from an enemy, so it is trained to mark the divers it encounters by attaching a buoy to its back, so the military can move to the buoy and identify the diver.
The Russian Navy’s ‘defector’ beluga whale

Second, the animals could be used to survey the terrain for mines, equipped with a camera attached to a harness. In 2019, a Norwegian fisherman found a beluga whale equipped with such a device, a ‘defector’ from the Russian Navy.

Lastly, Sutton suggests the possible use of marine mammals for the placement of explosive devices, limpet mines, on enemy ships.

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