Evidence: Abuse in Gaza of Cattle from Int'l Aid

Slaughtering practices in Gaza include extreme maltreatment of animals; could lead to the cessation of cattle imports from Australia, Israel

Jonathan D. Halevi ,

Transfer of goods to Gaza
Transfer of goods to Gaza
The Muslim world celebrated Eid al-Adha on October 14-15, 2013 the holiday commemorating the experience the Prophet Ibrahim underwent when ordered by Allah to sacrifice his son Ismail. During Eid al-Adha, Muslims feel closer to Allah by slaughtering cattle and camels, eating their meat and sharing it with family and the poor.

Hayim Dayan, CEO of the Israeli Cattle Breeders Association told me in a conversation I conducted with him for www.News1.co.il on October 30 that in the days leading to Eid al-Adha Israel transferred over 9,000 cows and calves and several thousand sheep to the Gaza Strip.

Israel imports over sixty thousand sheep from Australia and twenty percent of them are transported to the Gaza Strip (including those before Eid al-Adha), some directly through Israeli territory and some arrive in Israel for fattening before being transferred to the Gaza Strip at a later stage.  The transfer of the beef to the Gaza Strip from Israel and Australia is done via the Palestinian cattle merchant Hosni Afana.

Islamic Law prohibits causing the cattle fear or suffering before slaughtering. The slaughterer is commanded to end the action as swiftly as possible and to conduct it in a place where the cow cannot see other animal being slaughtered or eaten. The meat is considered Halal only if the slaughterer mentions Allah and cuts the two main veins, the trachea and esophagus. The action ends when the blood stops flowing. Animals which were by electric shock or shooting are not allowed to be consumed by Muslims.

The slaughtering laws in Judaism and Islam are similar and Kosher meat is regarded Halal. The only main difference lies in permission by Islamic law to cut the animal’s throat several times during the slaughtering process. Jewish Law commands the slaughterer to cut most of the trachea and the esophagus in only one swipe of the knife.

Dozens of video clips uploaded to YouTube during and following Eid al-Adha 2013 expose the practice of slaughter in official and private slaughterhouses in the Gaza Strip, under Hamas Islamic rule, whereby Halal slaughter is practiced according to Islamic law.

The video clips documented countless incidents of extreme maltreatment of cattle, beginning with transporting the cattle to the slaughterhouses up until the slaughtering process itself. Cows were transported while tied in open van trunks or in carts towed by tractors. Cows with legs tied were slaughtered in the middle of streets in front of bystanders including children. The crowd would scream, cheer and jeer at the cattle lead to slaughter. At times one could hear in the background loud Islamic prayer chants (“Allah Akbar, Allah Akbar, there is no god but Allah”) that only added to the misery the cows suffered on their way to be slaughtered.

The method whereby the cows were taken out of the van trunks was as follows: beatings with whips and sticks to force the cows to exit through the opening and pulling the cows with a rope tied around their necks from within the van. The van did not have a ramp so the cattle were in effect dropped from the height of about one meter hitting the ground, at times landing on knees or stomachs.

In the main Gaza slaughterhouse, the cows was entered into a metal box from which only their head could be seen. Employees then turned the metal box upside-down bringing the cows' heads to a convenient position, with their legs turned upwards and their heads turned downwards. Sometimes this stage lasted twenty six seconds, during which the bull would shake its head violently while suffering in this unnatural position. The slaughter itself took part in several stages. During the first stage, lasting some two seconds, the slaughterer cut the main veins in the cow’s throat several times with his knife causing a deep slash. For a further eleven seconds, until the end of the clip, he repeated cutting the animal's throat twice more.

In other slaughterhouses in the Gaza Strip where there are no such metal boxes, the slaughter is conducted in two main methods: a stab to numb and weaken the bull prior to completing the slaughter, and 'sawing' the bull's throat at length.

In the first method, the slaughterer approaches the bull carrying a knife and stabs it in the throat causing profuse bleeding. The slaughterer then waits for the bull to weaken, whereupon he completes his task. In several cases the bull continues to stand bleeding and grasping for air while attempting to hold on to life for up to a minute. In one case the bull only breathed his last after three minutes since first being stabbed.

In the second way, the slaughterer literally 'saws' the bull's throat with a knife. One of the video clips depicts a 'sawing' that lasted forty eight seconds long, during which the slaughter replaced two knives. In another clip the 'sawing' lasted over thirty seconds. 

In various cases preparing the bull for slaughter is conducted in the following manner: the bull with a rope around its neck is tied to a pole. The commotion and anxiety lead the bull to try and escape causing it further physical pain. Ropes are then tied to its legs and these are pulled back robustly (in one incident with a forklift), thus the bull is pulled by the rope fixed round its neck and tied to a pole and its legs pulled strongly in the opposite direction. This exposes the bull's extended throat and allows the slaughterer an easier job.

Yet another method popular in the Gaza Strip: the cow is pulled with ropes in opposite directions (including by its tail) in order to bring it the ground.  In one incident, close range shots from a Kalashnikov (AK-47) assault rifle were fired towards a bull's legs when it escaped from the slaughterhouse.

Other bulls that escaped from the slaughterhouses were brought down by a crowd participating in the chase, tying its legs and head, pulling the ropes in opposite directions and bringing the bull to the ground after a struggle that lasted several minutes, causing suffering to the animal before the slaughter.

The slaughter also takes place in the main streets of the Gaza Strip in the presence of large crowds of hundreds, among them many children.

The Israeli animal rights' organizations 'Let the Animals Live' and 'Anonymous' have yet to address this extreme maltreatment of cattle and sheep imported into the Gaza Strip from Israel and Australia (via Israel), where Halal slaughtering is practiced. Speaking to these organizations, I was informed that they were unaware of these practices.

The official website of the international animal rights organization PETA has no mention of the slaughtering practices in the Gaza Strip.

The British Sky News TV channel reported on the slaughtering of cattle and sheep for Eid al-Adha in the Gaza Strip, but completely ignored the slaughtering practices causing immense suffering to the animals.

The treatment of cattle and the Halal slaughter practiced in the Gaza Strip constitute a blatant violation of Australian law, which stipulates strict standards for maintaining the health and welfare of animals, and slaughter practices minimizing and shortening suffering.

To illustrate this case, on June 7, 2011, the Australian minister of agriculture, fishing and forestry ordered the suspension of export of animals for slaughter to Indonesia, after receiving evidence that in several slaughterhouses in that country maltreatment of animals is the norm.

Reprinted from the blog "Alternative Angle".