Animals Caught in the Crossfire of War in Gaza

The recent conflict in Gaza and Israel has had devastating consequences, not only for the human population but also for the countless animals caught in the crossfire.

As the world watches the harrowing images of destruction and human suffering, there is a lesser-known tragedy unfolding for the animals residing in this tumultuous region.

Dogs, cats, donkeys, cattle, sheep, and more are suffering as casualties of war, while individuals and organizations are working tirelessly provide aid to these voiceless victims.

Stray animals in Gaza endure dire conditions, facing daily struggles for survival.

Photo: Pexels
Stray animals in Gaza endure dire conditions, facing daily struggles for survival.

The Forgotten Casualties

The ongoing war has brought to light a heartbreaking and often overlooked concern – the fate of animals in the conflict zones. While the numbers of human casualties are widely reported, animal casualties have remained largely uncounted and unreported, reports Animals 24-7. The toll on both sides is immense, but the well-being of animals is a concern that has yet to receive the attention it deserves.

Animals on the Kibbutzim

One of the perplexing questions that arise from this conflict is the status of the animals living on the Be’eri and Kfar Aza kibbutz farming collectives, which bore the brunt of the attacks. Approximately 20 kibbutzim have come under fire during the conflict, as ABC News reports, but there is little information about the animals’ fate in the official reports. It remains uncertain if animals were massacred along with the human residents or whether surviving animals are receiving the necessary care during these trying times.

With a population of 2.1 million in just 140 square miles, there's minimal space for stray animals.

Photo: Pexels
With a population of 2.1 million in just 140 square miles, there’s minimal space for stray animals.

Gaza’s Struggle

In Gaza, a densely populated territory of just 140 square miles and a population of 2.1 million, there is minimal room for significant animal agriculture. The United Nations Food & Agricultural Organization estimated in 2017 that Gaza had thousands of cattle and tens of thousands of sheep, though these numbers have likely dwindled due to urban expansion.

The NAMA Zoo in Gaza City, the last of six privately owned zoos in the region, is known to have several exotic animals, but the recent information regarding the conditions and fate of the zoo remains scarce, Reuters reports.

Donkeys, once vital for transportation, are now in short supply due to a ban on imports.

Photo: Pexels
Donkeys, once vital for transportation, are now in short supply due to a ban on imports.

The Critical Role of Donkeys in Gaza

According to The Washington Post, Gaza has heavily relied on donkeys, especially as economic sanctions have limited fuel and transportation. Donkeys have been instrumental in transporting goods, building materials, and even collecting waste. However, a ban on importing donkeys from Israel, implemented in December 2021, has left Gaza in a predicament.

Israel’s decision to halt donkey imports was reportedly made in response to concerns raised by animal welfare organizations, and has undoubtedly disrupted an essential part of daily life in Gaza.

The price of a single donkey in Gaza has surged to nearly $1,000, putting them out of reach for most of the people who rely on them, The Washington Post reports.

Feral cats and street dogs are particularly vulnerable to the ongoing violence in Gaza.

Photo: Pexels
Feral cats and street dogs are particularly vulnerable to the ongoing violence in Gaza.

Feral Cats and Street Dogs

The people of Gaza are dealing not only with the scarcity of essential livestock but also the plight of feral cats and street dogs. With limited shelter from the ongoing violence, these animals struggle to find food and safety, reports the Times of Israel.

Animal welfare groups and individuals have taken it upon themselves to feed and shelter these creatures, despite their own challenging circumstances.

These strays often face injuries and illnesses without access to veterinary care.

Photo: Pexels
These strays often face injuries and illnesses without access to veterinary care.

Humanitarian Efforts

Efforts to assist animals affected by the conflict have been made on various fronts. Israeli animal welfare organizations, veterinarians, and volunteers have joined hands to rescue and care for animals affected by the conflict, The Times of Israel reports. A hotline was established for people to report and seek help for their pets left behind in the chaos. Volunteers have also stepped up to find and care for animals whose owners were killed or went missing, reports The Messenger.

While the conflict between Israel and Gaza has dominated headlines, the plight of animals in the war zone remains a little-explored topic. The animals caught in the crossfire are not only victims but also symbols of resilience in the face of adversity. With their well-being often neglected, it falls upon the shoulders of animal welfare organizations and volunteers to provide aid in a difficult time.

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Matthew Russell is a West Michigan native and with a background in journalism, data analysis, cartography and design thinking. He likes to learn new things and solve old problems whenever possible, and enjoys bicycling, spending time with his daughters, and coffee.
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