In this April 2012 photo, Palestinian schoolchildren watch zoo owner Mohammed Awaida pet a mummified lion at the Khan Younis zoo. (AP/Adel Hana) (AP/Adel Hana)
Gaza lion

In a rare effort of coordination with the PA, Israel rescued an ailing, neglected lion from Gaza and transferred it to a zoo near Tulkarem.

The Palestinian Authority (PA) for the time being refuses to re-enter peace negotiations with Israel, and Hamas in Gaza has been focusing on building terror tunnels. Yet the Israelis and Palestinians did manage to coordinate their efforts to rescue an ailing lion from the Gaza zoo, which was taken into Israel from the Erez crossing at the Gaza border and transferred to a zoo near the PA village of Tulkarem in Samaria.

The transfer was coordinated by the PA Agriculture Ministry, COGAT (Israel’s Coordination of Government Activities in the Territories), Israel’s defense ministry and the Israel Nature and Parks Authority.

Longstanding negligence and outbreaks of disease have killed many animals in Gaza, including in its zoos, where they are starving and emaciated.

“Even in better times, there has often been little awareness of animal welfare in Gaza,” AP reported recently. “In 2013, for instance, two lion cubs died shortly after birth because zoo workers in northern Gaza did not know how to care for them. In another renowned scene captured on film, Gazans used a crane to lift a camel over the border fence from Egypt into Gaza as the animal twitched in the air in agony.”

The situation in Gaza – not only for animals, but also for civilians – has deteriorated rapidly since the Hamas terror organization began ruling the Strip in 2007, using funds and materials donated to improve the residents’ quality of life for terror infrastructure.

“In 2014, an animal welfare organization evacuated three scrawny lions from Al-Bisan to Jordan,” AP reported. “Last summer, the same charity, Four Paws International, helped send two lion cubs to a safe sanctuary in Jordan after Ouida, the South Jungle Zoo owner, sold them.”

By: Terri Nir, United with Israel Staff