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Number Seven Thousand Five Hundred and Twenty Six - 10 March 2024
Iran Daily - Number Seven Thousand Five Hundred and Twenty Six - 10 March 2024 - Page 5

In midst of genocide

Gaza’s cats warm children’s hearts, beds

By Sally Ibrahim
As Israel’s indiscriminate onslaught on the besieged coastal enclave continues, cats have snuggled up alongside displaced Palestinian children under flimsy tents as a means of refuge from the harsh, cold weather and brutal war.
Separately speaking to The New Arab (TNA), several children said they are doing their best “to protect stray cats from death from the cold weather or starvation”.
“These poor cats cannot save themselves from Israel’s attacks. They cannot find food in the streets. They also are victims of the Israeli war against us in Gaza,” said Subhi Elian, a 12-year-old boy displaced to Rafah, located in southern Gaza.
‘At least, we can live longer together’

A month ago, Elian, who was forced to run from his home in Gaza City with his family to shelter in Rafah, noticed two stray cats sleeping beside him. He says at that moment, he felt extreme sadness.
“I cried as I felt the cats also suffered from the war. They cannot speak to ask us to help them; they only came here and slept,” Elian remarked to TNA.
Elian says he shares his food with his new feline friends, whom he named Semsem and Lolo. “We are starving, but, at least, we can live longer together until we get more food the next day,” he added.
At first, Elian’s father, Mohammed, asked his son to let go of the cats because there was barely food for the family, arguing that the cats would only increase their burden. But Elian did not concede and pleaded, so the father relented.
“Since then, I suddenly started receiving more assistance from UNRWA,” the father told TNA, “It seems the cats brought us luck.”
Abdul Qader al-Assar, an 8-year-old child from the al-Nuseirat refugee camp, adopted three cats after seeing them desperately search among piles of rotting garbage for food.
“The cats were so skinny and unable to move,” he said. “I decided to adopt and care for them until the war ended.”

‘All of us are under attack by Israel’
Israel launched a massive war on Gaza after Hamas led an attack on Israeli military bases and civilian settlements within and around the Gaza envelope on October 7, with some 1,200 Israelis dying in the fighting.
Since then, Israeli war jets, ground artillery, and naval boats have battered all of the besieged coastal enclave, killing at least 29,000 and wounding more than 67,000 Palestinians, mostly women and children.
Because of the war, numerous stray animals were also killed or had to be abandoned. This is why Salman al-Hams, a 15-year-old boy in Rafah, gathered as many starving cats as he could and routinely fed them in front of his house.
“They are animals, and they have rights like humans (...) Israel does not distinguish between us and the animals in Gaza. All of us are under attack by Israel,” he said to TNA.
“Even though we are struggling to obtain food, we are still happy to share it with these poor cats and stray dogs in our areas,” he added.
According to the UN’s Food and Agricultural Organisation, Gaza’s entire 2.3 million population is currently classified as facing either crisis, emergency, or catastrophic levels of food insecurity.
The UN, Human Rights Watch, and other humanitarian organisations have warned that starvation of civilians as a method of warfare is being used in Gaza — a move deemed illegal under International Humanitarian Law and in direct breach of UNSC Resolution 2417.

The article first appeared on The New Arab.


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