Israelis, Palestinians pull together to rescue lion
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Israelis, Palestinians pull together to rescue lion

Ailing big cat transferred from Gaza Strip across Israel and into West Bank, to new home in Tulkarem zoo

Stuart Winer is a breaking news editor at The Times of Israel.

An ailing lion seen as it was transferred from the Gaza Strip to a zoo in the West Bank town of Tulkarem, March 10, 2016. (Defense Ministry)
An ailing lion seen as it was transferred from the Gaza Strip to a zoo in the West Bank town of Tulkarem, March 10, 2016. (Defense Ministry)

A coordinated effort by Israeli and Palestinian officials on Thursday succeeded in putting together the rescue of a lion from a zoo in the Gaza Strip and then transferring the ailing animal across Israel and into the West Bank.

The lion, which has been suffering from serious health issues, was delivered to a zoo in the West Bank town of Tulkarem where there are better veterinary resources than in Gaza.

Moving the big cat from Gaza to his new home required coordination between the Palestinian Agriculture Ministry, COGAT — the branch of the Israeli military that coordinates activities in the Palestinian territories — Israel’s Defense Ministry and the Israel Nature and Parks Authority.

Palestinian officials first transported the lion to the Erez border crossing between Israel and the Gaza Strip. From there the Crossings Authority of the Defense Ministry moved the beast into Israeli territory, where an INPA veterinarian was waiting to accompany him as he was trucked across Israel and into the West Bank.

Hours after beginning the trip the lion safely reached Tulkarem.

In June 2015 two young lions that had been kept as pets in a Gaza refugee camp were taken to Jordan to join a wildlife sanctuary.

A Gaza family had bought those lions as cubs from a local zoo that was damaged in the summer 2014 conflict between Israel and Hamas-led terror groups. The family kept Mona and Max in their small home in the crowded Rafah refugee camp.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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