Sulala Animal Rescue is out of contact as war intensifies; Israeli Bat Sanctuary stands down from active rescue, but continues to care for animals from massacred kibbutz farms & evacuated Israeli territory
RAMAT GAN, Israel; NUSEIRAT, Gaza––With expanded Israel Defense Force ground operations in Gaza underway, concurrent with intensified negotiations seeking the release of 229 hostages held by the Hamas militia government of Gaza, Let the Animals Live posted a reminder of what the war is all about.
Founded in 1986, Let the Animals Live is the oldest still functional humane organization in Israel, though several others now apparently defunct preceded it.
Let The Animals Live operates shelters and animal hospitals in the Tel Aviv suburb of Ramat Gan; Kfar Ruth, bordering the West Bank; and Ashkelon, one of the Israel communities attacked by Hamas on October 7, 2023.
Hamas overstepped line for Israeli friends of Gaza animals
Let The Animals Live delivered animal food, veterinary supplies, and veterinary help into Gaza during previous Israeli Defense Force incursions in pursuit of Hamas terrorists.
On October 7, 2023, however, Hamas overstepped a line for Let The Animals Live, as well as for many other Israelis who to that point had been actively involved in both animal rescue and in support of the establishment of an independent Palestinian state.
A common theme in communications received by ANIMALS 24-7 from Israeli former sympathizers with Gazans in particular could be summarized as, “We trusted and helped them, and they killed, raped, and tortured us.”
For Let The Animals Live, the betrayal was personal.
“Moran Yanai was brutally abducted by Hamas at the Nova festival,” the outdoor concert where 260 Israelis and visitors from other nations were murdered, Let The Animals Live explained on October 28, 2023.
“Moran is a great light for the animals in Israel,” Let The Animals Live continued. “As an integral part of her daily life, Moran took care of many animals with endless dedication.
“Her family and friends talk all the time about her kindness, how she looked for any way to do good, with sensitivity and compassion.
“So far, 21 excruciating days
“There is no further information about Moran and what she is going through, except for one short video recorded by the damned terrorists in which Moran was begging for her life.
“Moran’s family and friends are asking for help in sharing the case,” Let The Animals Live said, “in exerting massive pressure that will cause the intervention of the international community, an intervention that will be expressed in actual actions, beyond words.”
Let The Animals Live also posted the story of Israeli Defense Force captain Tal Groshka, who in late September 2023 “found an abandoned puppy and brought him home. He named him ‘Be’eri,’ but his family said that wasn’t a good name for a dog, and that he should be named Berry instead.
“Tal was killed in battle on his way to try and defend the people of Kfar Aza on that black Saturday,” Let The Animals Live continued. “Berry, Tal’s dog, sits by his grave and can’t understand where his hero has gone.”
Ilan Ben Avraham
Earlier, Let The Animals Live announced the death of New York Dog Lovers founder Ilan Ben Avraham, a dual U.S./Israeli citizen, killed on October 7, 2023 soon after he and wife Ayala adopted a dog named Oliver from Let The Animals Live.
Ilan Avraham, 70, gave himself up to the Hamas terrorists, buying time for Ayala and a female friend to escape under fire.
Let The Animals Live also mentioned that, “When sirens blared in Ashkelon, with no shelter in the house, Yariv Eliyahu held Ray, his beloved dog of 11 years, and tried to shield him with his own body. Yariv and Ray were badly injured when a rocket hit their home. Yariv was admitted to the burn unit at the hospital, hooked up to oxygen and sedation.
“Ray, who was also burned, was taken by our ambulance to the veterinary hospital. Today,” October 25, 2023, “they met for the first time and no one could hold back the tears.”
More than 120,000 Israelis were evacuated from communities near Gaza after October 7, 2023, including many kibbutz farming collectives, and have not yet been allowed to return.
Let The Animals Live, the Israeli Bat Sanctuary, and other rescue organizations have ever since been performing animal rescues and delivering animal food to the few caretakers remaining in the evacuated areas.
Sulala Animal Rescue out of contact
Inside Gaza, at temporary headquarters in Nuseirat, just south of the Wadi Gaza rivulet demarcating the boundary line that the Israeli Defense Force asked Gazan civilians to retreat south of, Sulala Animal Rescue––the only incorporated nonprofit animal aid organization in Gaza––has been out of communication with the outside world since October 27, 2023, when bombing severed the last internet and telephone links from Gaza.
A Starlink emergency telecommunication channel established for the use of United Nations civilian relief agencies in Gaza by Israeli billionaire Elon Musk is apparently inaccessible to Sulala Animal Rescue as yet, if it ever will be.
“Fact they can’t help more animals is killing them mentally”
While some internet connections were still occasionally open, the Israeli volunteer who has relayed messages from Sulala Animal Rescue to Facebook obtained and posted videos of a cat rescued by Sulala founder Saeed Al Err and his sons a day earlier.
“One cat is nothing, but it’s all they can do at this point. And the fact that they can’t go out and help more animals has been killing them mentally,” the Israeli volunteer said.
There are currently reports about phone and internet in Gaza being completely cut off because of the heaviest bombardments yet all over the Gaza Strip (that record seems to be shattered every day but this time it’s truly the worst –– artillery combined with aerial bombardments) and the Israeli military said they would start the ground invasion tonight. This is terrifying, but I will post all info I have here. If you see nothing, I have no news. It will be hard to respond to messages, and extra scary, so if you can please just try to check the page.
“Surrounded by artillery fire”
“Last night I spoke with Saeed,” the volunteer continued. “He was surrounded by artillery fire all day. He said previous wars were theater compared to what is happening now. He said this is Gaza’s last war. I wish I could give good news, but the situation is indescribably difficult and much of what is said too difficult to share. He also told me that he is trying to stay as safe as possible.”
Two days earlier, Saeed Al Err pledged, “When there will be a ceasefire in the north, we will move to take care of the wounded animals there. I am ready with a team, and we will go with a couple of cars, so we can go to different areas and help as many animals as possible.
“We will try to help them all”
“We will help the injured, sick, the ones whose owners can’t help them, dogs and cats who are abandoned in the street. We will try to help them all. I have volunteers ready,” Saeed Al Err said. “I think it would take two or three days. But we need fuel for that. Maybe when they [international aid organizations] bring food for animals, they should be reminded of that too.
“Today we rescued three cats,” Saeed Al Err continued. “I waited in line for bread today. I have a little bit of fuel, maybe just for two or three days. The [cooking] gas for maybe one week, maybe two weeks. It will finish in the next two weeks. And I can’t find it anywhere. I look and I ask and I try, but there is no gas. I look for fuel, there is none.
“I feel for them, and I can’t help them”
“Without war, I would take in so many cases each day,” Saeed Al Err mused. “Wounded and sick animals, poor animals who suffer in Gaza without the war. And at this moment, I feel like all the animals in Gaza are screaming and crying and are seeking shelter, and I feel for them, and I can’t help them!
“The animals in the shelter, thank God they are fine, and they have food and water. But the ones in the streets, the ones in Beit Hanoun, Beit Lahia, Shuja’iyya, Rimal, Gaza City––poor animals! I can’t help them. I am very sad for them. This is occupying my mind, them and the people.
“Yesterday we fed the horses and donkeys of the refugees from the north. The owners are still giving them water, but didn’t have food. We will continue to look out for them,” Saeed Al Err finished.
“Nora’s rescues in the war zone are close to an end”
Back on the Israeli side, “Nora’s rescues in the war zone are close to an end,” the Israeli Bat Sanctuary posted on October 27, 2023.
Israeli Bat Sanctuary founder Nora Lifschitz, 36, became an Israeli national heroine, profiled by multiple mass media, for two weeks of daily animal rescue missions into the remnants of massacred kibbutz farms and the evacuated zone, bringing out any domesticated animal she could carry, of any species.
“There are currently several organizations that work on rescuing the animals who are left, and Nora must return and take care of the bats and the sanctuary,” the Israeli Bat Sanctuary explained.
“Point of an ear sticking out”
“We are still responsible, of course, for the food, housing, medical needs, etc. of the animals who couldn’t yet be reunited with their owners, and are working towards that goal,” the Israeli Bat Sanctuary said.
The Israeli Bat Sanctuary posted a photo that “documents one of the few times the army insisted [Lifschitz should have] a military escort, as there was fighting in the area, and insisted on lending Nora a bulletproof vest for her safety.”
“The two cute dogs rescued (one is in the back and you can only see the point of an ear sticking out),” the Israeli Bat Sanctuary said, “she was able to return to their owners that same day, to everyone’s delight.”
Animal & human death toll
As the Israel/Gaza war rages on, critics of Israeli tactics often point out that the October 7, 2023 Israeli death toll was about 1,400, civilian and combat deaths combined, while the Gazan death toll, also combining civilian and combat deaths, is already reportedly more than 7,700.
The animal toll on either side of the Gaza border is almost certainly much higher than that, among the dairy cattle shot and poultry burned in barns by Hamas terrorists on October 7, 2023, and the street dogs, feral cats, and working donkeys, all plentiful in Gaza, whose deaths are collateral damage from the fighting.
Comparing the death tolls, however, is somewhat misleading, since the October 7, 2023 victims of Hamas were killed simply for being Jews, or being friends of Jews, or being the animals of Jews.
Civilian victims, street animals, and working animals in Gaza have been killed, despite Israeli warnings to evacuate, because Hamas installations and fighters have been hiding among civilian infrastructure.
A more accurate comparison of death tolls would be between the 2,390 Americans killed at Pearl Harbor in the Japanese sneak attack of December 7, 1941, and the estimated 2.1 to 2.6 million Japanese deaths, nearly 1,000 times more, along with the deaths of 65,000 U.S. soldiers, sailors, and airmen, during the four-year campaign that followed Pearl Harbor to eradicate the Japanese capacity and will to wage war against the U.S., China, the Philippines, and the many smaller nations caught up in the fighting, mostly before the U.S. became involved.
Most of those nations––including China, even through much subsequent U.S./China friction––have remained appreciative ever since, despite their many casualties.
“Here, kitty, kitty”
Critics of Israeli tactics also commonly argue that Hamas has only waged a “war of resistance” to “colonial occupation.”
This overlooks that Israel had not occupied Gaza since 2005, and that holding a civilian population hostage as Hamas has for 17 years, including animal non-combatants, is practically the definition of “occupation.”
ANIMALS 24-7 suspects that if Let The Animals Live, Sulala Animal Rescue, and the Israeli Bat Sanctuary had set national policy on either side of the Gaza border, there would have been no rockets fired, no rocks thrown at soldiers, no terrorist attacks, no armed response, a Palestinian nation established long ago with substantial Israeli help, and no name-calling worse than “Here, kitty, kitty,” with the no-man’s-land still full of grazing cattle, camels, sheep, goats, and donkeys.
Unfortunately, we will never know.