Monday marked a dark day in the Gaza Strip as a young life tragically ended after encountering a lion in a private zoo. In Khan Younis, the southern town of the Palestinian territory, 6-year-old Hamada Ikteit was reportedly mauled by a lion after scaling the zoo’s fence.
The police force, under the militant Hamas group, provided the initial report, claiming that he had breached the cage through an opening. However, his family disputes this and alleges that he was attacked when he reached the outer fence facing the animal.
This is believed to be the first reported death as a result of animals housed in private zoos in Gaza. Unfortunate conditions such as potential starvation and lack of medical care have afflicted many private zoos, exacerbated by Israeli-Hamas conflicts.
Organizations have collaborated to move lions and other creatures to sanctuaries in places such as Jordan and Africa.
The tragic incident of Hamada’s death has sparked calls to better protect the animals of Gaza while considering their safety with the same urgency applied to human life. As the impact of the long-lasting Israeli-Hamas conflict and other chronic issues, such as poverty and deprivation, continues to loom, the persecuted creatures of Gaza are among the forgotten victims of the decades-long chaos that has poisoned the occupied Palestinian territory.