Sunday, February 1, 2009

Gaza zoo animals 'shot at point-blank range'

Israeli troops shot and killed zoo animals
Gulf News: Zookeeper Emad Jameel Qasim doesn't appear to react to the stench as he walks around the animals' enclosures. A month ago, it was attracting families -- he says the zoo drew up to 1,000 visitors each day. He points at the foot-long hole in the camel in one of the enclosures. 'This camel was pregnant, a missile went into her back,' he tells us. 'Look, look at her face. She was in pain when she died.'

Around every corner, inside almost every cage are dead animals, who have been lying in their cages since the Israeli incursion... Most of them have been shot at point blank range...

Inside the main building, soldiers defaced the walls, ripped out one of the toilets and removed all of the hard drives from the office computers. We asked him why they targeted the zoo. He laughs, 'I don't know. You have to go and ask the Israelis. This is a place where people come to relax and enjoy themselves. It's not a place of politics.'...

Israel has accused Hamas of firing rockets from civilian areas. Qasim reacts angrily when we raise the subject. 'Let me answer that with a question. We are under attack. There was not a single person in this zoo. Just the animals. We all fled before they came. What purpose does it serve to walk around shooting animals and destroying the place?'

Inside one cage lie three dead monkeys and another two in the cage beside them. Two more escaped and have yet to return. He points to a clay pot. 'They tried to hide,' he says of a mother and baby half-tucked inside... 

We ask him why it's so important for Gaza to have a zoo. 'Dueing the past four years it was the most popular place for kids. They came from all over the Gaza Strip. There was nowhere else for people to go.'
Image source here.