Israelis treat animals like Palestinians


Here’s an off-the-wall whacky idea for combating terrorism: Let’s stop supporting it. The brutal murderous heartless thugs who do this sort of thing can do so only because you and I pay for it.

Ask to be directed to the latest wave of Israeli destruction in Rafah’s al-Brazil neighbourhood and many fingers point towards the zoo.

Amid the rubble of dozens of homes that the Israeli army continued yesterday to deny demolishing, the wrecking of the tiny, but only, zoo in the Gaza Strip took on potent symbolism for many of the newly homeless.

The butchered ostrich, the petrified kangaroo cowering in a basement corner, the tortoises crushed under the tank treads – all were held up as evidence of the pitiless nature of the Israeli occupation.

“People are more important than animals,” said the zoo’s co-owner Mohammed Ahmed Juma, whose house was also demolished. “But the zoo is the only place in Rafah that children could escape the tense atmosphere. There were slides and games for children. We had a small swimming pool. I know it’s hard to believe, looking at it now, but it was beautiful. Why would they destroy that? Because they want to destroy everything about us.”

The army also initially denied that soldiers deliberately wrecked the zoo that provided Rafah’s children with virtually their only contact with live animals, even ordinary ones such as squirrels, goats and tortoises.

Among the zoo’s more popular exhibits were kangaroos, monkeys and ostriches, which children could sit on.

The destruction was comprehensive. The fountain and its tiles were a jumble of rubble in one corner. There was no sign of the swimming pool.

One of the ostriches lay half buried in the rubble. Guinea fowl and ducks were laid out in a row. Goats and a deer struggled with broken legs.

Some of the animals were still on the loose, if not buried under the debris. One of the two kangaroos was missing; the other was cowering in the basement. A snake and three monkeys were unaccounted for. Mr Juma accused Israeli soldiers of stealing valuable African parrots.

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