The war will go on, regardless of deaths, until Hamas runs out of food & ammunition
NUSEIRAT, Gaza; RAMAT GAN, Israel––Reports of both human and animal malnutrition and starvation dominate the news from Gaza, nearly 90 days after Hamas terrorists and other Gazan men who followed them into Israel on October 7, 2023 massacred more than 1,200 Israelis and dozens of foreign visitors, raped hundreds of women and girls, kidnapped as many as 240 Israelis, and killed thousands of animals on kibbutz communal farms near the Gaza border.
Israel subsequently has acknowledged the deaths of 170 soldiers in pursuit of Hamas.
How many animals have been killed on either side since then can only be guesstimated from the human casualties.
Gaza civilians & pets
Gaza families before the war averaged 5.6 members, according to the United Nations Population Fund.
If each family had one pet dog or cat, on average, which would be a high ratio of pets to people for the Middle East, the pre-war Gaza owned dog and cat population may have been as high as 375,000, with as many as 125,000 street dogs and feral cats bringing the total to about half a million.
The Palestinian Health Ministry as of January 6, 2024 alleged that more than 22,600 people had been killed in Gaza since Israel counter-attacked late on October 7, 2023, or about 1% of the total human population, with 57,000 people wounded.
This would suggest about 5,000 dog and cat fatalities, along with the likely deaths of several hundred donkeys, sheep, goats, and other farmed and working animals beyond the many who might have been killed for meat in the normal course of events.
Israeli Defense Force chief spokesperson Rear Admiral Daniel Hagari told NBC News Today on January 5, 2024 that Israeli intelligence believes it has killed or captured 8,000 to 9,000 Hamas fighters during the course of the war.
“That figure, which has not previously been reported,” said NBC, “would represent just under a third of Hamas’ estimated prewar strength of 30,000.”
Despite the body count, Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu has repeatedly warned that the remaining Hamas fighting force might be able to hold out in what remains of as many as 300 miles of underground fortifications beneath hospitals, schools, mosques, hotels, and other civilian infrastructure in Gaza City and Khan Younis, the second largest city in Gaza, for as long as a year.
How much food does Hamas still have stashed?
How much food Hamas still has stashed in tunnels is anyone’s guess. Recent Hamas raids on relief convoys seem to suggest desperation, but to feed 21,000 surviving fighters through another year of fighting would suggest a hoard of up to five million ration kits or the equivalent, none of which, to date, appear to have been shared with Gaza civilians, let alone animals.
In all likelihood Hamas has substantially less stored ration kits remaining, possibly next to none; dwindling stocks of ammunition; and little if any chance of resupply, unless of course Israel gives in to mounting international pressure for a ceasefire.
Allowing Hamas to resupply could ensure that the war continues indefinitely.
Expecting Israel to back off, meanwhile, with most of the Hamas fighting force apparently cornered and still hellbent on attacking Israel, amounts to expecting Israel to commit suicide.
Why we don’t consider UNICEF a credible source
The United Nations Children’s Fund [UNICEF] on January 5, 2024 reported that 90% of Gaza children under age two and a quarter of pregnant women are receiving insufficiently varied nutrition, and that one in four Gazans are enduring “famine-like levels of starvation.”
That does not bode well for animals either, in a place where pets mostly live on table scraps and other food waste.
But UNICEF and other United Nations entities working in Gaza long ago shot any credibility they ever had in Israel––and should have shot any credibility they had with anyone else of good sense––by denying that Hamas tunnel fortifications were beneath Gaza hospitals and schools.
The Israeli Defense Force has now reported destroying more than 500 Hamas tunnels, most of them found beneath hospitals and schools that for more than 15 years have been staffed chiefly by United Nations personnel.
How Gaza crisis differs from tsunami aftermath
Reported NBC, “Israeli authorities say there is enough food in the territory, and that they have taken the necessary steps to allow aid in, blaming any shortages on U.N. bodies.”
Meanwhile, as much as 85% of the Gaza human population of 2.3 million population are displaced, and an estimated 70% of the buildings in Gaza, including apartment blocks and individual homes, have been damaged or destroyed.
In other widespread, long-term disaster situations, for example the aftermath of the December 26, 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami, street dogs, feral cats, and other dogs and cats left abruptly homeless have tended to fare better for a few weeks, at least, than the human survivors, hunting rats and mice left exposed in the rubble.
The Indian Ocean tsunami killed 228,000 people in five nations, almost all within the first few hours. In Gaza, an area comparable to Long Island, Brooklyn, and Queens, the disaster area expands daily, rather than contracting from the initial devastation, and even the rats and mice may be down to short rations.
Sulala Animal Rescue is out of food
Sulala Animal Rescue, the only incorporated nonprofit animal charity in Gaza, founded in 2006 by Saeed Al-Err and family, at last report had all but run out of food for the 120 cats and 30 dogs left in care of the organization.
On January 5, 2024, posted Sulala Animal Rescue volunteer Annelies Keuleers, who has maintained contact with Saeed Al-Err from Belgium, “Saeed went to Rafah,” a city on the border between Gaza and Egypt, with a crossing used by trucks bringing international aid for Gazan civilians, but “didn’t find any [animal] food, not even at elevated prices. He is still looking, and he put someone on the lookout, should animal food arrive.
“The positive thing,” Keuleers said, “is that an Egyptian organization working with Safe Haven for Donkeys and Animals Australia sent two metric tons of food and medicine for animals that is now waiting on the Egyptian side of the border. We found out the number of trucks waiting there to be inspected is less than fifty, and that is better than I thought.
“Huge backlog in inspections”
“I think that means Saeed could receive the food within a week, if the Israelis let it in, but I think they will. From what I hear, all kinds of food and medicine for humans is allowed, but there has just been a huge backlog in inspections.
“That’s why we thought bringing full trucks of food through Kerem Shalom,” a larger point of entry into Gaza, from Israel, “would be faster. But it’s so difficult to figure out how we can apply for that,” Keuleers added.
“An application, not by us, was put in a bit less than a week ago, and from what I understand there has been no response yet.
“The bureaucracy is very confusing. It’s so difficult to understand who does what. Hopefully we can share good news about the shipment of food arriving in Gaza soon,” Keuleers finished.
Israeli rescuer wants to help Gaza animals
A widely syndicated report by freelance journalist Danny Halpin mentioned that, “Yael Gabay, one of the signatories and founder of Israel’s Freedom for Animals, wants the Israeli military to allow her to take food into Gaza and to accompany her while she rescues abandoned animals from the war zone.
“Israeli soldiers have been giving water to some of the wandering animals and bringing some back in their tanks, she added, although they are prohibited from doing so,” Halpin continued.
Added Halpin, “Politician Yasmin Sacks Friedman,” a member of the Knesset, the Israeli Parliament, representing the minority Yesh Atid party, “has been pushing the Israeli government to support the animals and the volunteers trying to rescue them.”
“Life’s mission is to improve the state of animals in Israel”
Yasmin Sacks Friedman, with four other members of the 120-member Knesset, in November 2021 founded an animal welfare parliamentary caucus.
“My life’s mission is to improve the state of the animals in Israel,” Yasmin Sacks Friedman lamented to Halpin, but “for two and a half years, the ministry of agriculture has not been co-operative.
“Like everything else relating to the treatment and rescue of animals in the past, in the end,” Yasmin Sacks Friedman said, “care and rescue is done exclusively by animal loving volunteers and activists.”
Northern Israel also evacuated, leaving animals
Yael Gabay also mentioned that Freedom for Animals “rescued a lot of turkeys, chickens, cats and dogs early in the war, but her volunteers are now no longer allowed into Gaza.
“Volunteers also want to access chicken farms that have been destroyed by missiles along the northern border,” Halpin wrote.
The Freedom for Animals page on Facebook describes several cat food delivery missions to northern Israel adjacent to Lebanon, from which the entire civilian population has been evacuated for months due to increasingly frequent Hezbollah missile strikes.
Posted the U.S. organization In Defense of Animals to Facebook, “Yael Gabay tells us it’s
pretty scary, no sirens in the open fields, so things happen very quickly… can be
quite intense and stressful. But we believe that all lives are important to save.”
Altogether, about 200,000 Israelis are internally displaced, many of them having been obliged to leave free-roaming pets and farmed animals behind.
Freedom for Animals Israel has also been delivering vegan meals to soldiers in northern Israel.
“Rafah Zoo was known for emaciated animals”
“The Rafah Zoo in the southern Gaza Strip was known for its emaciated animals, with the owners saying they struggled to find enough money to feed them,” reported the Facebook page Roar Wildlife News back on October 13, 2023.
Roar Wildlife News recalled that “In April 2019, international animal rights charity Four Paws took all the animals to sanctuaries, receiving a pledge the zoo would close forever.
“Four Paws paid the zoo’s owners more than $50,000 in the year before its closure for medical treatments, food and caretakers,” Roar Wildlife News said.
But the Rafah Zoo reopened anyway, “with two lions and three new cubs, penned in cages only a few square meters in size,” the Roar Wildlife News report finished.
Six zoo evacuations in 25 years
In truth, Four Paws and other international wildlife charities, including charities from Egypt, Jordan, and Lebanon, have evacuated or helped to rebuild failed private zoos in Gaza at least six times in 25 years.
New Delhi Television on January 1, 2024 broadcast an update about the Rafah Zoo, with the disclaimer that, “This story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.
“In the private zoo, run by the Gomaa family,” the NDTV report began, “ a line of plastic tents stood near the animal pens and washing hung from lines between palm trees. Nearby a worker tried to feed a weak monkey tomato slices by hand.
Zoo disaster happening all over again
“Many of those sheltering at the zoo are members of the extended Gomaa family,” the family that has operated most of the failed Gaza zoos, “who were living in different parts of the enclave before the conflict smashed their homes.
“Four monkeys have already died and a fifth is now so weak it cannot even feed itself when food is available,” said Rafah Zoo owner Ahmed Gomaa.
“He also fears for his two lion cubs,” NDTV continued. “We feed them dry bread soaked in water just to keep them alive,” Ahmed Gomaa said.
“The cubs’ mother has lost half her weight since the conflict started, going from daily meals of chicken to weekly servings of bread,” NDTV finished.
From Ramat Gan, Israel, Let The Animals Live continues to post updates about volunteers, adopters, and donors lost to Hamas murders and kidnapping, on October 7, 2023.
Yotam Haim, 28, along with fellow Israeli hostages Alon Shamriz and Samar Talalka, were shot dead on December 15, 2023 by Israeli Defence Force troops who misidentified them as Hamas fighters in the Shejaiya neighborhood of Gaza City.
The three men emerged from a building shirtless, waving a white flag and shouting in Hebrew, but their captors had shaved their heads so that they looked like soldiers.
“He loved animals,” Haim’s mother Iris told Let The Animals Live. “Our Yotam was a special person. He was different and unique and animals helped him deal with that difference and gave him lots of confidence.
“If you want to do something good for Yotam,” Iris Haim said, “adopt an animal in need.”
Arbel & Dolev
Let The Animals Live also mentioned “Arbel and Dolev, siblings and best friends, who have the most contagious identical smiles.
“One month before October 7, 2023, Arbel and her partner Ariel Conyo, adopted Merph, a dog.
“On October 7, 2023, Arbel and her partner were kidnapped from their home. Their sweet pup Merph was found shot dead outside their house.
“That same morning, Dolev, a medic and rescue volunteer, went out to help at kibbutz Nir Oz. He was kidnapped,” while “His wife Sigi, then heavily pregnant, and three children, waited for him. Dolev is still in capacity. Sigi since gave birth to [a daughter] Dor, who hasn’t met her father yet.”
Let The Animals Live also remembered “Eitan Mor, who worked security at the party in Re’im,” one of the first sites hit by Hamas.
“When Hamas terrorists started to massacre the party goers,” Let The Animals Live recounted, “Eitan, surrounded by horrors, along with his friend Elyakim Libman, instead of running and saving themselves, helped evacuate wounded and dead.
“Eitan’s uncle texted Eitan all the time, until contact with Eitan was lost. Nezi, Eitan’s dog, waited for him at home to come back from work and take her for a walk.
“But terrorists kidnapped Eitan to Gaza and Nezi doesn’t understand where Eitan, her whole world, disappeared to. Eitan must be released now!”
Concluded Let The Animals Live, “We start a new year but the war continues and we continue to be in the war zones all the time, to distribute bags of food and feed the animals in the north and south, and to rescue and locate dogs and cats who were lost to the evacuees.”