Street dogs find their own way to the one Gaza animal shelter; fruit bat rescuer leads multi-species rescue missions into devastated kibbutzes
TEL AVIV, Israel; GAZA CITY, Gaza––“Something wonderful has happened,” Sulala Animal Rescue posted to Facebook from besieged Gaza City on October 11, 2023, a surprising message from a location likely to soon be on the front lines if Israel follows up five days of bombing suspected Hamas facilities with a ground invasion.
“There are more dogs in the shelter than before the war,” Sulala Animal Rescue continued, offering video of dogs filling the five-acre rescue compound.
“This is our duty”
“Stray dogs are coming to the shelter on their own,” Sulala Animal Rescue explained. “Maybe it’s because the bombing is in the cities and the shelter is in an open area. Maybe it is because dogs are telling other dogs that there is this great shelter where they are welcome.
“We are doing what we can to help the animals,” Sulala Animal Rescue finished. “This is our duty. We will keep going out to help the animals and make sure they have food and water and that they are safe.”
From the Israeli side of the fighting, video emerged showing animal rescuers pulling injured dogs out of vehicles filled with bullet holes and buildings wrecked by the Hamas invaders who massacred at least 1,300 Israelis on kibbutz collective farms and at an open air concert location close to the Gaza border on October 7, 2023.
Who the rescuers were was unclear from the video, posted by organizations as far away as Pune, India, and Oslo, Norway, but the locations appeared to be recognizable from earlier news reports about the Hamas attack.
Israeli Bat Sanctuary
One rescuer known to be working in the war zone is Israeli Bat Sanctuary founder Nora Lifschitz, 36.
Israeli Bat Sanctuary involvement began with a Facebook posting on October 7, 2023, hours after the Hamas attack:
“There has been a major attack on Israel from Gaza this morning (it is evening here now), and since then we are in a state of war.
“The batties, Nora, and all our volunteers are okay for now.
“We’ll update when we can and when things are clearer. Please don’t worry.
“Praying for peace.”
Frequent updates followed
“Pray with us for peace & better days”
“Things are not easy,” the Israeli Bat Sanctuary offered on October 9, 2023. “There is fighting in the south of our country, many horrible things, and we are heartbroken and anxious.
“The sanctuary is not close to the fighting,” the Israeli Bat Sanctuary said, though it is in fact barely 25 miles from the locations of the bloodiest massacres of Israelis, “and Nora and the batties are okay. There was a forest fire not far [from us] due to a rocket shot down, but it was quickly put out.
“Our sanctuary’s hotlines are still open, and although there are less calls (as many people stay at home or in bomb shelters) we try to rescue every bat who is reported. Apparently the batties did not get the memo about a war going on and still need help, very selfish!”
“Pray with us for peace and better days.”
“Can’t stand by when animals are in need”
Since the war did not come to the Israeli Bat Sanctuary, founder Nora Lifschitz went to the war.
“We are a bat rescue, but Nora can’t stand by when animals are in need. Whatever animals. Even when our country is in a state of war,” the Israeli Bat Sanctuary posted on October 11, 2023.
“Yesterday and today Nora drove down south to rescue dogs trapped in the fighting zone, coordinated with the military, not just gallivanting around a closed military area. She also took dozens of bags of dog and cat food that were taken inside the closed zone for the animals.
Nine dogs and a parrot
“Yesterday she returned with five dogs, including a mom with two pups, and their families,” who had been evacuated to Eilat, near the Israeli Bat Sanctuary, “who were going crazy with worry got the good news.
“Today she is there again. Are we worried for her safety? Yes. Are we unbelievably proud of her? Also yes.”
A day later, on October 12, 2023, the Israeli Bat Sanctuary offered “Some more heartwarming news. Nora continues to go down south and rescue animals caught in the war zone. Yesterday she came back with nine dogs and a parrot!
“We are waiting to see who she will return with today!”
Who is Nora Lifschitz?
“At first, Nora Lifschitz took care of fruit bats in her Tel Aviv apartment, but growing numbers made her realize she needed to relocate,” explained Jonah Mandel for the Times of Israel back on July 1, 2016.
“Call her Israel’s bat woman,” Mandel wrote.
“She works in secret, out of an erstwhile chicken coop in central Israel,” near where David reputedly fought Goliath, “that has become shelter to hundreds of fruit bats being nursed back to health for various ailments.
“Only does animals good”
“An appeal for a new home was answered in the form of a small, tin-walled chicken coop in an unassuming town far from Tel Aviv in the Elah Valley, near Beit Shemesh,” Mandel explained.
“Lifschitz’s and the bats’ unlikely landlord is Shimon, a man in his early forties born and bred in the village, a third generation farmer, who saw the appeal by Nora’s group and decided he wanted to help.
“To him,” Mandel said, “helping Nora and the bats is also a way of making amends for the period in which his coop was a place to raise chickens for killing.
“Nowadays this is a place that only does animals good,” he said.
Chief Chabad Shliach in Sderot
Rabbi Shaul Wilhelm, of Oslo, Norway, meanwhile posted that his friend “Chief Chabad Shliach in Sderot,” a fellow rabbi, “on the border with Gaza and his team are overextending themselves caring for hundreds of families in need of basic needs and someone to speak with.
“A message arrived about a dog who had been locked in a house since this war on Israel started. The inhabitants escaped, hoping to return that day.
“The rabbi arranged for the rescue of this poor animal, who will now be looked after in the warmth of the Chabad house, until the owners come back.
“The rabbi speaks of the dog’s thirst, hunger, and fear, concluding, “He who has mercy on God’s creations will experience God’s mercy.”
The exact same saying also occurs multiple times among the Hadiths of the Prophet Mohammed.
Let The Animals Live “met with Brothers in Arms”
The Tel Aviv animal charity Let The Animals Live, the largest in Israel, with an evacuated satellite shelter and animal hospital in Ashkelon, on October 12, 2023 reported successful completion of a “food delivery for animals in the south,” by “Four Let the Animals Live vehicles full of dog and cat food, with a team of rescuers and veterinarians, to help as many animals as possible.
“We gave out dog and cat food all over the south,” Let The Animals Live said.
“We met with ‘Brothers in Arms’ and gave them dog and cat food to dispense in the Gaza Envelope area and in places we cannot reach.
“And we rescued a dog that had been left behind and returned him to his loving family.
“We will continue to do everything we can to help as many animals as possible.
“We thank Biopet for donating some of the food, Gali Davidson from the animal protection department at the Ministry of Environmental Protection, and Eran Green, the municipal veterinarian for Kfar Saba and Ra’anana.”