Last updated: 21 November, 2013

Gaza zoo’s newborn lion cubs die

Two lion cubs born in Gaza this week and named in honour of Hamas’ last major clash with Israel died on Thursday, a zoo official said.

“The lions named Fajr and Sijil (Dawn and Clay in Arabic) died today due to a deterioration of their health at birth,” Shadi Hamad, supervisor of animals at Bissan park, told AFP.

“The cause of death is a lack of experience and resources for the birth and treatment of cubs. Food and medicines for such a situation are not available” because of the Israeli blockade of the Gaza Strip, said Hamad.

“We had tried to contact the relevant authorities in Egypt, but these are blockade conditions,” he added without elaborating.

Since toppling Islamist president Mohamed Morsi in July, the Egyptian army has destroyed nearly all tunnels used for smuggling goods into the Palestinian territory that Israel prohibits.

The lions were born in the Hamas-run Bissan park less than a week after the first anniversary of the eight-day conflict between Gaza’s Islamist rulers Hamas and Israel in November 2012.

The head of the park, Nahed al-Majdub, announced their birth on Tuesday, saying the male and female cubs’ parents were imported from Egypt four years ago.

At the time, Hamas armed wing the Ezzedine al-Qassam Brigades congratulated itself on having smuggled the cubs’ parents past the Israeli blockade.

The group said on Twitter: “Despite Israel’s unjust siege, Palestinians managed to smuggle these 2 lions to draw a smile on faces of Gaza kids.”