Gaza’s zoo closes its doors, sends animals to Israel, other countries for treatment
Amir Khalil (R) the director of the NGO "Four Paws" treats a tiger which was evacuated from a zoo in Khan Younis in the southern Gaza Strip at the Israeli Hebrew University veterinary teaching hospital in Beit Dagan, near Tel Aviv, on August 24, 2016, prior to being transported to South Africa. (AFP/Menahem Kahana)
Fifteen animals were transferred from the Khan Younis zoo in the southern part of the besieged Gaza Strip to zoos in Israel and other countries via the Erez crossing on Wednesday.
The Israeli Civil Administration said in a statement that the animals were transferred in coordination with the Gaza Ministry of Agriculture, COGAT -- the Israeli agency responsible for implementing Israeli policies in the occupied territory, and the Israeli authorities at the crossing, while the transfer was initiated by Four Paws, an international organization working to end the suffering of animals.
The animals that were transferred included a tiger, five mokeys, two ostriches, a deer, two eagles, two turtles, two porcupines, and a pelican. They were transferred to zoos in Israel, Jordan, and South Africa.
The recent transfer was the last group of animals that were set to be relocated from the Khan Younis zoo, marking its permanent closure.
Head of COGAT in Gaza Uri Madar said that the zoo was closed because the administration in Gaza was not able to care for the animals, adding that during the past two years more than five lions, horses, and other animals have been transferred to zoos outside of the besieged enclave.
The Gaza Strip has suffered under an Israeli military blockade since 2007, when Hamas was elected to rule the territory. Residents of Gaza suffer from high unemployment and poverty rates, as well as the consequences of three devastating wars with Israel since 2008, most recently in the summer of 2014.
The 51-day Israeli offensive, termed “Operation Protective Edge” by Israeli authorities, resulted in the killings of at least 1,462 Palestinian civilians, a third of whom were children, according to the UN.
The UN has said that the besieged Palestinian territory could become "uninhabitable" by 2020, as its 1.8 million residents remain in dire poverty due to the nearly decade-long Israeli blockade that has crippled the economy, while continuing to experience the widespread destruction caused by periodic Israeli offenses, and the slow-paced reconstruction efforts aimed at rebuilding homes for some 75,000 Palestinians who remain displaced following the last Israeli assault.
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