Animal rescue activity is nearly completed in evacuated parts of Israel attacked by Hamas
AL ZAHRA, Gaza; TEL AVIV, Israel––Amid the explosions and chaos of the Israeli Defense Force incursion to destroy Hamas tunnels, dogs run, cats hide, and the Gaza donkeys go on working.
Indeed, the surviving Gaza donkeys are working perhaps harder than ever, despite short hay rations and little water, because more than three weeks into the war between the Hamas militia and Israel, with gasoline and diesel fuel unavailable except to the combatants, and then only in short supply, donkey carts are almost the only form of working wheeled transportation.
Sulala Animal Rescue survives nearby bombing
Sulala Animal Rescue, the only incorporated nonprofit animal rescue organization in Gaza, retreated south from northern Gaza to Al Zahra, just north of Nuseirat, south of the almost dry Wadi Gaza river, after the Israeli Defense Force warned Gazans early in the fighting that the northern half of Gaza would be subject to bombing and other heavy combat.
But Al Zahra has become an unofficial no-man’s-land itself.
The Belgian volunteer who has been helping Sulala Animal Rescue to maintain contact with the outside world throughout the war on October 30, 2023 posted an aerial photo of Al Zahra after the Israeli Defense Force on October 19, 2023 bombed nearby targets believed to conceal Hamas infrastructure.
The photo showed “Saeed’s family home,” the Belgia volunteer said. “The windows and doors were blown out and it is not inhabitable anymore.”
“Only Sa’ed was there with the dogs”
Saeed and Sally Al Err founded Sulala Animal Rescue in 2006. His son, Sa’ed, 24, helps to manage the rescue.
A second building, half a block away, the volunteer added, “is where Sa’ed and the dogs were. Only Sa’ed was there with the dogs when the windows and doors were blown out.
“Sa’ed is strong and not a victim,” the volunteer wrote, “but that night he was in the house with the dogs and the surrounding buildings were bombed was the most traumatic night of his life.”
Video shows situation
Sa’ed assembled many short videos he made both earlier and during the next several days into a single long video posted to the Sulala Animal Rescue page on Facebook.
Described the Belgian volunteer, “It starts with the movement of people from north to south, [showing] how he moved with some of the dogs from the shelter to an area they thought would be safer, or at least they would be close and easy to reach, and how the surrounding area was then bombed, and the windows and doors were blown out, while he was there with the dogs.
“Then how he stepped out and saw his whole neighborhood was destroyed.”
“The dogs went back”
The most informative part of the video, however, shows how “while they were looking for another place for the dogs after the bombing, the dogs went back to the [original Sulala Animal Rescue] shelter [north of Gaza City] on their own,” passing a donkey cart along the way.
“Our employee Adel who lives close confirmed. Until now the dogs in the shelter are still unharmed,” the volunteer said.
“The last video we posted, [showing] feeding the cats shows a fireball lighting up the sky before bombing,” Sa’ed mentioned. “This was above Mughraqa, the area next to Al Zahra. We saw many people fleeing from this area with donkey carts and on foot. Al Mughraqa is an agricultural area, where many people raise livestock, so they have many animals.
“About the donkey carts”
“About the donkey carts,” Sa’ed continued, “if we could choose, none of the horses and donkeys in Gaza would have to work, and they could live a better and relaxed life with plenty of food and no work.
“Unfortunately this is not the reality. Every time we see a working animal being abused, we intervene and educate the owner. Not all owners abuse their donkeys,” Sa’ed testified. “Our employee Adel has a donkey and she is treated very well. Before the war we were working on awareness sessions for donkey and horse owners. If we survive, we will definitely continue and improve this work.”
The video showed an injured horse. “We treated this horse today,” Sa’ed explained. “He had a wound on his knee, and came with refugees who were leaving their houses before they were bombed. We also gave him food and water.”
Relatively quiet now, west of the Gaza wall
As combat in Gaza intensifies and living conditions deteriorate, including for animals, the phrase “All quiet on the western front” increasingly describes the devastated kibbutz collective farming region just beyond the Gaza boundary, from which approximately 120,000 Israelis and foreign farm workers have been evacuated.
Altogether, more than 1,400 Israelis and foreign nations and perhaps tens of thousands of farmed animals, mostly poultry and cattle, were killed by Hamas invaders on October 7, 2023 at 16 kibbutz farms.
Most of the smaller animals who survived the terrorist attacks have now been rescued and removed. Israeli Dairy Association volunteers have been attending to the surviving cattle. Donated feed and fodder have been trucked in to replace the feed and fodder stored in the many barns torched by Hamas, mostly with the animals still inside.
Except for Israeli Defense Force activity, little is moving in the kibbutz belt.
Let The Animals Live and the Israeli Bat Sanctuary continue to “distribute bags of dog and cat food to the animals that have not yet been rescued, so they don’t starve in the meantime, more than three tons of food in total,” the Israeli Bat Sanctuary posted to Facebook on October 29, 2023.
“In purchasing the sacks,” the Israeli Bat Sanctuary mentioned, “we were helped by donations, and some generous donors also bought sacks directly and sent them to us. Everything was received with gratitude and distributed.
“Every one is a pure soul who deserves to live.”
“Even in normal times, and certainly in a war zone,” the Israeli Bat Sanctuary added, “animals are not top priority. There is no doubt that there are those who would raise an eyebrow at taking risks to save a hamster, or a parrot, or an injured turkey.
“But if there is something that our sanctuary is used to, it is eyebrow raising like this. We rescue and care for bats, not exactly a popular animal. There are those who are unjustly afraid of them, disgusted, by them, who certainly don’t understand why we save them. But for us, every one is a pure soul who deserves to live.”
Thirty-two of the thirty-three bat species found in Israel are insectivorous bats, but fruit bats are more common in Israel than all other bats combined, so are the bats that the Israeli Bat Sanctuary most often rescues and treats.
As well as the Gaza animals, one or more red heifers hidden somewhere in Israel may be in danger.
Organizations called the Temple Institute, Boneh Israel, and Uvne Jerusalem promote the construction of a “Third Temple.”
The “Third Temple” would replace the sacrificial temples built by King Solomon circa 930-931 BCE and built as a replacement after Solomon’s temple was destroyed 400 years later.
The replacement “Second Temple” was demolished by the Romans in 70 CE to initiate the Diaspora, the forced exile of Jews from the ancient states of Israel and Judea.
“Before the Third Temple is built, heralding the messianic era long prayed for by both Jews and Christians,” explained Mira Fox on September 8, 2023 for the Israeli online periodical Forward.com, “a pure red heifer will be sacrificed,” even though mainstream Judaism has not practiced animal sacrifice since the Diaspora.
Even before the Diaspora, many Jews had turned away from animal sacrifice, influenced by the vegetarian prophets Isaiah, John the Baptist, and other leaders including, apparently, Jesus and his brother James.
“In Judaism,” Fox continued, “this [messianic] era is prophesied to mean the coming of a time that includes the return of Biblical laws of purity, thus allowing for truly holy life. For evangelical Christians, it would herald the End Times, the return of Jesus to Earth and the Rapture; this belief has long driven Christian Zionism and Christian lobbying on behalf of Israel.
“For both groups,” Fox continued, “there are a few requirements for this time to arrive: the restoration of the nation of Israel, Jerusalem becoming a Jewish city again — which was accomplished, sort of, by Israel in 1967 — and the birth of a red heifer to purify it all.”
Rabbi Yitzchak Mamo of Uvne Jerusalem, recently told the Christian Broadcasting Network that he has planned a ceremony for Passover 2024, at which one or more red heifers imported from Texas earlier in 2023 will be sacrificed.
The Temple Institute meanwhile claims to have bred their own red heifer from red Angus stock imported from Nebraska.
They shall blow their tunnels into bat caves
The Israel/Hamas war is interpreted, among some of the most extreme fundamentalist Christian and Jewish sects, as the beginning of a war that will reunite all of ancient Israel and Judea (the region west of the Jordan River, today commonly called the West Bank, most of which is now inhabited by Palestinians, but militarily occupied by Israel since the Six-Day War of 1967.
The Book of Isaiah, part of both the Torah and the Christian Bible, prophecies that a time will come when, “They shall beat their swords into ploughshares, and their spears into pruning hooks; nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war anymore.”
That does not appear to be likely at any time soon, if ever.
But the time may come, regardless of what happens to red heifers, when what remains of the Hamas tunnel complexes under Gaza after the Israel/Hamas war become bat caves and burrows for the feral boars of the region.