More Media Monkey Business

In a report on the neglect of animals at a Gazan zoo, The Daily Mails attributes the animal’s predicament to the conflict.

lionsFlies buzz around the emaciated body of a lion as it decays in the sun; nearby the mummified corpse baboon lies on the ground- it’s head still tilted up as though looking out of its enclosure, across from it a porcupine’s brittle spines protrude from its lifeless body.

They are among the dozens of animals which have died at Khan Younis zoo in the impoverished Gaza Strip after they were left without food.

Zoo owner Mohammed Awaida has blamed the Palestinian and Israeli conflict for the tragedy- claiming it meant that staff were unable to feed or care properly for the animals at the zoo.

Mr Awaida said he opened the ‘South Forest Park’ in 2007, only to lose a number of animals during Israel’s military offensive against Hamas that began in December 2008. During the three-week offensive, launched in response to rocket attacks on Israel, Awaida said he could not reach the zoo, and many animals died of neglect and starvation.

And it appears that history has repeated itself.

The fighting between Israel and Palestinian militants escalated last summer killing more than 1,960 Palestinians and 67 people on the Israeli side.

Once again unable to reach the zoo, animals died of neglect and starvation. They include a little monkey, which died in its enclosure-  its teeth still clenched together. In another enclosure, a Palestinian zoo worker inspects the remnants of a crocodile.


Hassan Azzam, director of the veterinary services department in Gaza’s ministry of agriculture, said: ‘We have humble capabilities,’ but the ministry encourages zoos.

Leaving aside the casualty statistics that do not distinguish between terrorist and civilian, what this report fails to mention is how Hamas have a history of booby-trapping Gazan zoos. Which one could imagine would make it difficult for zookeepers to look after the animals.

There’s also the small matter of Hamas mascots mistreating animals.

Not to mention of the fact that last year, Israel helped transfer lions from Gaza zoo to Jordan.

So while I am sure the conflict started by Hamas has taken its toll on the zoos, Hamas’ disregard for animal life (in addition to their disregard for human life) is also relevant, as is Israel’s regard for animal life.


David Lange

A law school graduate, David Lange transitioned from work in the oil and hi-tech industries into fulltime Israel advocacy. He is a respected commentator and Middle East analyst who has often been cited by the mainstream media

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