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  • Writer's pictureDorit Jordan Dotan

Animal victims of the war in Israel

By Dorit Jordan Dotan

Arukah isn’t taking sides about the war and is focusing on the animal victims wherever they are.

Hamas militants carried out a monstrous attack in the southern region of Israel, resulting in the deaths of numerous dogs and cats. Tragically, some of the families who survived are now trapped in their homes, alongside the lifeless bodies of their beloved animal companions, as determined efforts are underway to rescue them.

Soldiers in Kibbutz Kfar Gaza. Photo by Haim Goldberg, Flash 90

The evidence of dog shootings is widespread, and there are even reports of dogs being forcibly taken to Gaza. However, amid this grim situation, stories of dog rescues have miraculously emerged, with Israel Defense Forces (IDF) soldiers conducting these operations, sometimes under hostile fire, to bring these animals back to their new homes in Israel. Alongside the dedicated efforts of organizations like Let Animals Live, numerous private citizen initiatives have sprung up to rescue and provide care for the animal companions left behind.

The ordeal for these individual dogs and cats was harrowing. They endured three to four days without food, some were left alone, and many arrived at shelters trembling from the traumatic experience.

The Israeli community has rallied to provide not only food and supplies for soldiers and their families but also to support the rescue, care, and rehoming of dogs and cats who were abandoned in the chaos.

A still from a video circulated by Hamas featuring the dog they abducted to Gaza.

Amid the distressing videos from Gaza in recent days, one video stands out, not because it's more disturbing than the others, but because it serves as an anguishing reminder of the mercilessness of the situation. In this video, Hamas militants break into a home in Kibbutz Kisufim, and a family dog excitedly approaches them. Shockingly, one of the militants raises his weapon and fires two shots, ending the dog's life on the very path to the family's home that this dog had bravely sought to protect. The tragedy in the south is not just a human one; it extends to a much larger scope.

These dogs were rescued while in a traumatized state, having spent 3-4 days in dire conditions, with some going without food and others left to fend for themselves. Many of them arrived at shelters trembling and in desperate need of care.

In addition to caring for the rescued dogs and finding them permanent homes in the near future, there are two concurrent initiatives in progress. One involves collecting blood donations from dogs, with the dogs’ families generously contributing to fill the blood banks. Simultaneously, there is a substantial effort to expedite entry permits to communities that have been sealed off, allowing for the rescue of dogs in need.

Survivors of the onslaught in the Gaza periphery recount harrowing tales: Dogs Bark—and Entire Families Are Saved

Bonita, a dog residing in a village near Gaza, fell victim to a vicious attack by militants but exhibited immense courage, ultimately saving an entire family. "The militants were taken aback by the dogs' response – they simply preferred not to confront them," said one witness.

Bonita in moments of terror. Credit- According to Section 27(a) of the Copyright Law

In many courtyards in communities near Gaza, there were dogs who could be found wandering freely until recently. But it was only after the horrific massacre carried out by Hamas militants in the Gaza periphery last Saturday that the breathtaking courage and unwavering loyalty of these companions came to light.

Survivors attest that quite a number of dogs, along with their families, came under attack or were shot at by militants during their attempted intrusion on Saturday. In some instances, militants bypassed houses for fear that the dogs might bite them, unwittingly sparing entire families. In other cases, soldiers shot dogs in yards, likely out of concern that the barking might expose their positions to security forces.

Many dogs and cats, who survived these ghastly events, were left without their amilies—either because they were killed or abducted. The surviving dogs were rescued by soldiers, animal-protection organizations like Let Animals Live, which provided for their needs and attempted to locate their families. Some of these dogs have already found foster homes.

One family member shared on social media the astonishing fearlessness exhibited by Bonita during those terrifying moments: "Bonita was the one who directly saved our family. On Saturday morning, we were in the protected space when they fired at our living room, and on the other side of the entrance door, there was continuous gunfire. At the same time, there was a problem with the shelter's lock, and I held an empty gun because, under pressure, I couldn't find the bullets. The strategy (of the militants) was to go from house to house and shoot. In our case, Bonita, the dog, rushed toward the militants as they were about to enter our home. He shot Bonita with three bullets, and then moved on to the next house in line."

It turns out that other dogs in several of the kibbutzim also fought the militants to protect their beloved families. Fortunately, they survived the ordeal. "We know of a few cases where dogs saved families from militants who attempted to enter their homes. Some of them paid for it with their lives, but they saved lives," said Etty Altman, from the Let Animals Live organization, which assists in rescuing dogs, cats, and other animals from the Gaza periphery.

Operation for animals in the Gaza border

Image: Let the Animals Live organization

Rescued from the terrible ordeal in the South, bewildered and scared. Image by Hohit Bar

Four Let the Animals Live vehicles set out to the south full of dog and cat food, with a team of rescuers and veterinarians, to assist as many animals as possible.

They distributed the food all over the south, met with Brothers in Arms and gave them dog and cat food to dispense in the Gaza Envelope area including everywhere in the war zone.

They rescued a dog who had been left behind and returned him to his loving family.

Let the Animals Live will continue to do everything it can to come to the aid of as many individual dogs and cats as possible.

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Nov 14, 2023

I should have read the article before forwarding it to others. The claim that Arukah does not take sides is contradicted not only by the framing (e.g., referring to the "war in Israel" while in reality the vast majority of ongoing death and destruction is located in Gaza. Furthermore, emphasis on the heroic efforts of IDF personnel in saving animals while characterizing Hamas and Palestinians in general as the only perpetrators of violence. Very disappointing!

Nov 16, 2023
Replying to

Thank you for this comment. There’s no mention of the incredible work of Sulala Animal Rescue in Gaza, for example. The founder’s home has been destroyed by the IDF, and he is still heroically saving animals. I am very disappointed to read this. Ceasefire now.


Eric Mills
Eric Mills
Nov 14, 2023

And we dare call ourselves Homo SAPIENS (sic)....


Esme G
Esme G
Nov 14, 2023

I would like to see a consideration or at the very least an acknowledgement of the animal victims of IDF bombings in Gaza over the last month. If 11,000 Palestinians have been killed, then how many animals will also have been killed in the bombardment? I also very much hope the Arukah supports calls for a ceasefire. As Rachel Carson said: “Until we have the courage to recognise cruelty for what it is — whether the victim is human or animal — we cannot expect to be much better in this world”.

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