Israeli rescuers bring out animals left behind by Hamas massacres
GAZA CITY, TEL AVIV––Hezbollah snipers shot Israeli surveillance cameras to pieces along the Lebanese border. Two thousand U.S. Marines aboard American warships in the eastern Mediterranean Sea were put on full alert preparatory to a scheduled October 18, 2023 visit to Tel Aviv, Israel, by U.S. president Joe Biden.
But “Today seemed perhaps a little bit calmer than the previous days,” posted Sulala Animal Rescue to Facebook, from a temporary shelter south of the Wadi Gaza river, near Nuseirat, in central Gaza.
“If it’s because of bad weather, we hope the weather stays like this,” the Sulala Animal Rescue spokesperson added.
Founded in 2006 by Saeed Al Err, 50, and his wife Sally, Sulala Animal Rescue is the only animal protection organization incorporated within Gaza. Err and family relocated to relative safety, with as many as 400 dogs and 130 cats, soon after the Israeli military warned Gazans to move south ahead of an anticipated ground invasion, but the invasion has not happened yet.
“We try to help where we can”
“This experience is very difficult, in large part because we see so many humans suffering too. The first day of the evacuation, people walked 20 kilometers [12.2 miles] on foot, because most people don’t have cars. We try to help where we can, give tired people water to drink, and help with pets. But this situation truly must end soon,” said.
Earlier, Sulala Animal Rescue posted, “We were approached by a citizen who told us about his dogs close to his house on a piece of land in Gaza City. He had not been able to see them for three days. He asked us for help. We hesitated because of the difficult situation in Gaza, but could not say no. We took the citizen from the south of Gaza to the north to pick up the dogs. We brought them to his relatives in Nuseirat, which is just under the evacuation line.
“We also gave him food for this dogs, and his dogs are now safe now. The owner was happy we helped.”
“Fuel for three days”
Four days earlier, on October 12, 2023, Sulala Animal Rescue recalled, “we went to being extra food to the shelter storage and to feed the dogs. The dogs were fine, but we could see smoke from explosions behind the shelter.
“We tried to buy fuel for the car,” Sulala Animal Rescue continued. “We went to several gas stations, but we couldn’t get any. So we still have fuel to go to the shelter for three days. We will manage. Adel, our employee, lives close to the shelter and he will go. We have food there for a long period. But it is so difficult that we are cut off from each other and the world and we can’t talk to each other.”
Another Sulala Animal Rescue employee, Loay Rami Al Wadi, 19, was killed under unknown circumstances on the second day of fighting.
Vegan jewelry designer kidnapped by Hamas
Hamas terrorists ignited the war by massacring as many as 1,400 Israeli civilians on October 7, 2023, kidnapping from 199 to 250, according to conflicting Israeli government and Hamas statements.
Few of the dead and missing have been publicly identified, but among the kidnapped, Laurie Kellman of Associated Press revealed on October 12, 2023, was vegan jewelry designer Moran Stela Yanai.
“She could almost be annoying with how much she was so kind and sensitive to animals. You couldn’t eat meat next to her because she was so sensitive to animals being harmed — not just pets but farm animals and wild animals,” her brother-in-law Dan Mor told Kellman.
Dogs fought for massacred families
More than a week later, videos taken by cell phones and security cameras are still surfacing, showing the mayhem.
“Amid the distressing videos from Gaza in recent days,” opined Israeli/German artist Dorit Jordan Dota, 62, on the Arukah Animal International web site, “one video stands out, not because it’s more disturbing than the others, but because it serves as an anguishing reminder of the mercilessness of the situation. In this video, Hamas militants break into a home in Kibbutz Kisufim, and a family dog excitedly approaches them. One of the militants raises his weapon and fires two shots, ending the dog’s life on the very path to the family’s home that this dog had bravely sought to protect.
“Survivors attest that quite a number of dogs, along with their families, came under attack or were shot at by militants,” Jordan Dota continued, citing in particular “Bonita, a dog residing in a village near Gaza, who exhibited immense courage,” ultimately saving her whole human family.
“They saved lives”
“We know of a few cases where dogs saved families from militants who attempted to enter their homes. Some of them paid for it with their lives, but they saved lives,” affirmed Etty Altman of Let The Animals Live.
Let The Animals Live continues to retrieve dogs and cats from the kibbutz collective farms whose humans were killed or evacuated after the massacres by Hamas.
“These dogs are rescued while in a traumatized state, having spent days in dire conditions, with some going without food and others left to fend for themselves. Many arrive at shelters trembling and in desperate need of care,” Jordan Dota said.
“In addition to caring for the rescued dogs and finding them permanent homes in the near future, there are two concurrent initiatives in progress,” Jordan Dota reported. “One involves collecting blood donations from dogs [for wounded dogs], with the dogs’ families generously contributing to fill the blood banks. Simultaneously, there is a substantial effort to expedite entry permits to communities that have been sealed off, allowing for the rescue of dogs in need.”
Let The Animals Live
Let the Animals Live, through the first 10 days of the war, continues to say little themselves about their activities, except to mention on October 16, 2023 that teams are “distributing food to brave feeders who stay and take care of cats” in the evacuated communities of Sderot, Netivot, Be’er Sheva, Ashkelon and Moshav Dekel.
“We left food and water for cats, transferred food for goats, donkeys and chickens who have been evacuated from their homes,” and “A terrified pooch was returned to his family in Netivot,” Let The Animals Live posted to Facebook, adding that “Badly injured cats were rescued and taken to our clinic,” while “Three dogs from the Sderot pound were transferred to our shelter in Kfar Ruth.”
Let The Animals Live has previously mentioned coordinating rescue operations with a smaller organization called Brothers in Arms, sometimes translated Brothers & Sisters in Arms.
Brothers & Sisters in Arms
Emailed longtime animal advocate Ellen Moshenberg to ANIMALS 24-7 from Tel Aviv “Brothers in Arms has created a first responder station at kibbutz Beit Kama. They send rescuers to the sites of the massacres to collect animal survivors, bring them for triage to their station, and then relay them on to clinics or sanctuaries. My daughter, a veterinarian, has been volunteering there and said large numbers of slaughtered dogs have been found in the affected area,” confirming the information posted by Jordan Dota.
Elaborated Yoni Bashan, a columnist for The Australian, “High-risk military missions are being performed almost daily to extract survivors of the Hamas massacres – but it’s no longer people who need saving; the object now is to save the frightened and lonely pets left behind.
Israeli Defense Force rescues animals
“The army does a lot of work itself,” Bashan was told by Brothers & Sisters in Arms spokesperson Dan Yagudin,
“Within 48 hours of the terrorist attacks,” Bashan reported, “the Brothers & Sisters in Arms shelter bootstrapped itself from nothing and compiled a list of more than 2,000 families across Israel ready to take in a rescued animal.
“Wounded soldiers have turned up at the shelter with a kitten in their arms, or a puppy, hopeful of reuniting them with their rightful owners. Dogs from Gaza have been cared for, having run into Israel through breaches in the security fence.
“Cowardly cat” survived massacre atop a cupboard
“We had a few that were rescued where the family was kidnapped and then the (extended) family called us and said, ‘This is what we have left. A mother, father, and two children, this (pet) is all we have left,’ Yagudin told Bashan.
In one instance, Bashan narrated, a woman assured Israel Defense Force personnel that “her cat was a coward and probably wouldn’t have left” her home.
“Soldiers stormed the home in full battle dress and found the cat on top of a cupboard. This while terrorists were still in the vicinity,” Bashan said.
“Our amazing Nora”
“Every day our amazing Nora goes down south to rescue animals from the war zone,” the Israeli Bat Sanctuary posted about founder Nora Lifschitz, who “rescued 54 animals so far––dogs, cats, a goat, and a parrot,” and “distributed 2.5 tons of dog and cat food, for those who are still lost there.
Lifschitz also “Brought medicines to animals with chronic illnesses who were stuck without their regular medicines. She even brought food and toiletries to vegan soldiers there,” the Israeli Bat Sanctuary said.
But on October 15, 2023, “after endless trips on roads full of potholes, her car broke down when she was on her way back to the sanctuary,” the Israeli Bat Sanctuary posting continued.
“The car was half junk”
“We still don’t know the extent of the damage, because we are still looking for a garage that will agree to repair it. The car was half junk even before this happened, and you can also imagine the shape of the interior after daily transportation of frightened and injured animals.
“Without this vehicle,” the Israeli Bat Sanctuary lamented, “there are no more rescues from the south, there is no way to bring 200 pounds of fruit a day to the bats at our sanctuary, it is the basis of everything we do. Our dream is that someone will agree to donate us a car or jeep.”
But 24 hours later, the Israeli Bat Sanctuary was on wheels again.
“Since we published yesterday the post about Nora’s car breaking down,” the Israeli Bat Sanctuary updated, “we have been flooded with messages, support, love, offers to help, to lend cars, to drive her, to repair the car, and of course donations. We have (almost) no words to describe how grateful we are.
“You can’t stop this woman”
“Our amazing Nora got herself transportation and went down to the war zone again today to continue with the rescues. You can’t stop this woman.
“The car is still stuck, but we will have it towed and fixed,” the Israeli Bat Sanctuary said.
“And thanks to your donations, we are getting closer to the possibility of buying a used car in good condition that is suitable for the tough work that Nora puts it through.
“Nora’s rescue efforts today were at Kibbutz Ein Hasholsha,” the Israeli Bat Sanctuary finished. “It looks so peaceful, it’s almost unbelievable how much damage was done there and what horrible things. But Nora took a tiny break to tell you what she is doing and, of course, say thank you.”