Daily Israel Report

Israel Rescues Baby Deer from Arab Captors

Authorities have rescued a baby deer kept in cruel conditions and against the law by Arabs in Yesha. The deer now is safe in the Jerusalem Zoo.
By Tzvi Ben Gedalyahu
First Publish: 8/17/2009, 11:18 AM / Last Update: 8/17/2009, 12:20 PM

Civil Lands Administration

Israeli authorities have rescued a baby deer kept in cruel conditions and against the law by Arabs in Yesha. The deer now is safe in the Jerusalem Biblical Zoo but will not be able to return to nature because of the captivity.

The saga began after the 'Green Now' organization noticed the baby deer “Ofir” on a Hebrew website after its picture was included in photos posted by the B’Tselem organization, which apparently ignored the unnatural conditions under which the Arabs were holding the animals. B’Tselem has provided cameras to Arabs to film Israeli soldiers and civilians.

Deer are protected animals under Israel Nature Authority laws, and individuals are not allowed to keep them. The Arabs who captured Ofir live in a tiny illegal outpost near the Jewish community of Maon, located south of Hevron. Its residents have been involved in several violent incidents while trespassing and causing damage in Maon.

The Civil Lands Administration, after seeing the pictures, planned to dispatch a large security force to the village but then settled on a smaller force consisting of two officers from the Nature Authority and the Civil Lands Administration.

The father of the family holding Ofir initially denied the presence of a deer, then changed his story to say that the animal had run away and then changed it again to say that someone else had taken it away.

After a search discovered the animal, he confessed to having held Ofir captive. Green Now has asked police to charge the captors, who could face up to two years in jail for holding a protected animal.

Ofir now is at the Jerusalem Biblical Zoo, but officials said the domestication precludes the possibility of the animal returning to its natural habitat, where they said it would be killed very quickly by other animals.