Israeli security and the Rafah zoo [Archives:2004/741/Opinion]

May 27 2004

“Look John, I can understand why the President of the United States has full support for the right of Israel to defend itself, but to direct its entire massive arsenal against 70 animals caged in a harmless zoo in Rafah, isn't the IDF stretching the security phobia a little too far!” wondered Mustafa as he gently stroked the back of the stray cat that was looking for some affection.
The visiting American researcher was somewhat puzzled: “Mustafa, what are you talking about?”
“Didn't you hear?” asked Mustafa. “The Israeli attack on Rafah focused on a zoo that had some 75 different animals in it belonging to a Mohammed Juma, a Palestinian who has invested US$ 300,000 in the zoo. The bulldozers started with the beavers and ostriches dens and simply tore down all the fences and went back and forth on them just like they did to poor Rachel Corrie over a year ago.”
“Now why on earth would they do anything as cruel as that? How do these animals pose a threat to Israeli security?” asked John. “You must be joking”.
“No, I am not joking” said Mustafa while gently fiddling his fingers through the bright white section on the cat's neck and back, for some reason avoiding the brown and black spots that also decorated the cat's back. “You see the Israelis came around 3:00 AM in the morning and shouted, through a microphone, to the animals in the zoo: 'Come out with your hands up or you will be killed'! Of course at that time the animals were snoring so loud they did not hear the loudspeaker”.
John was still in doubt that the Israelis could ever go so far. “They must have not known it was a zoo that they were destroying”.
Murshid, Mustafa's brother brought coffee to the table where the two men were sitting in the coffee shop in the Alq'a area, which used to be the Jewish quarter in West Sana'a. He managed to pick up the theme of his brother's conversation with a former fellow student of his brother's in an American university. He wanted to try his English joking: “An Israeli spokeswoman confirmed the attack on the zoo and pointed out that Israeli intelligence was given word that the beavers and ostriches were used in the excavation of the tunnels that the Israeli incursion into Rafah never found anyway. So to make up for not being able to find the tunnels, they claimed to have found the machinery used by the Palestinians to dig the tunnels. The Israelis had no choice but to destroy the zoo as these animals were more menacing to the peace and tranquility that the Israelis have a right to enjoy than Hamas or even Hezbollah could ever be. I read the news myself in the Ghardian British newspaper on the internet.”
Mustafa corrected his brother: “The Guardian and not Ghardian!” and then turned towards John again: “Murshid is right though. The story is there in detail on the May 22 issue. Can you imagine? Without any joking though, what sensible logic can one find in destroying an innocent zoo? Look! I gave up a long time ago on believing the Israelis having any bit of mercy in the way they treated the Palestinians. After all, what did the Israelis come from every nick and cranny of this world to Palestine for? To take over their land, what else? To do that they either have to kill them or make life as miserable as they can until they are forced to leave the Promised Land that God undertook to deliver to them, as they like the world to believe.”
Murshid again insisted on taking part in the conversation: “After what they did to these animals, there is just no way that God Al-Mighty would take pleasure in being asked to be a part of this senseless havoc, in which the Hebrew State is relishing in the Holy Land. Who would find solace in worshipping such a God? No, God is merciful and views all this bloodshed as sheer infidelity to Him, no matter what justifications are made. Come to think of it, John, if Bush and those neo-con evangelicals want to give Jews a national home for the sake of God, as they claim, he could start off by donating some of his vast estate in the vast state of Texas to a few Jewish families? I am sure the United Jewish Appeal and the Anti-Defamation League will convince Congress to dole out some money out of the US budget to build the settlement. Besides, God is not in the real estate business anyway.”
John wasn't sure he understood Murshid well, but found his comment worthy of thought: “I already believe that the Israelis are getting carried away in their harsh policies in the occupied territories and like many Americans I have pointed this out to my Congressman. The present policy of the government of the United States in the Middle East is not showing evenhandedness at all. Even former US presidents have publicly expressed their concern for the ultra bias shown by the Bush Administration towards the Israelis.”
“I really expected Mr. Bush to have at least sympathy for those poor animals, who, unlike the Palestinians, did not have any of their kinfolk involved with 9/11! We can understand his summary viewpoint on the Arabs in general and contempt for the Palestinians, in particular, because his good friend Ariel Sharon has convinced him that all the Arabs and Moslems are guilty of 9/11. But how can he buy the Israeli logic with regards to these animals?”
Mustafa added: “I think the Israelis have convinced the White House that they do not have detention facilities like Abu Ghraib for animals and their budget is tight. So, the only way to assure that these animals are not used anymore by the Palestinians to dig tunnels or burial sites for arms and to make the Israeli illegal settlers feel insecure as they are going out at night, was to kill the animals, destroy the zoo and the zookeeper's house and put a discoth'que in its place. After all, the site happens to be within the “security buffer” between Rafah and the border with Egypt. Besides, the Israelis were afraid that some of the animals might kick or bite the settlers as they were 'withdrawing from Gaza'”.