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Last Updated: Wednesday, 24 August 2005, 15:40 GMT 16:40 UK
Israelis hunt for lost Gaza pets
An animal welfare volunteer carrier dogs out of a Gaza settlement
Many of the settlers left their homes without taking their pets
Israeli animal activists are scouring empty settlements in the Gaza Strip to find abandoned household pets.

Dogs, cats, chickens, goats, geese, parakeets, ducks, turtles and an iguana were among the pets abandoned by settlers under the disengagement plan.

Up to 200 animals are thought to remain inside Gaza but activists are battling to save them before bulldozers move in.

Israel's agriculture ministry has offered to re-unite pets wearing an identification tag with their owners.

Animal charity Hakol Chai has sent volunteers and vets into the empty Gaza settlements ahead of an army-imposed deadline for bulldozers to level the buildings.


The Tel Aviv-based charity, which campaigns for animal welfare throughout Israel, has already rescued about 100 animals.

"Time is running out because after the bulldozers ruin the houses, it is impossible to bring anything out," Hakol Chai's Tali Lavie to the AFP news agency.

A chicken found in an empty house
Animal charities were asked to help by Israel's government
"I think today [Wednesday] will be the last day we have in the Gaza Strip.

"There was one little kitten, three weeks old who had just opened its eyes. It had suffered so much, it was very, very hard," she added.

On its website the charity details how it has sent medical and neutering vans into Gaza.

Some 1.4m Palestinians remain living inside Gaza, many in cramped conditions rated among the most crowded and impoverished in the world.

Zookeepers in the southern Gaza town of Rafah were devastated by the loss of ostriches, kangaroos, crocodiles, exotic birds and a prized jaguar during an Israeli army raid in 2004.

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