Man detained after attempting to hunt gazelles in protected Jerusalem valley

Officers alerted after people near Gazelle Valley report sounds of gunfire; 22-year-old found in the park with gun explains he was trying to shoot game

Gazelles grazing in a protected park in Jerusalem. (Amir Balaban)
File: Gazelles graze in Jerusalem's Gazelle Valley in 2015 (Amir Balaban)

A man was detained in Jerusalem last week after firing a handgun in the city’s Gazelle Valley park.

The man told officers he was hunting gazelles, a protected species.

Police were called to the park on September 3 after gunshot sounds were reported in the area. Police found the 22-year-old man, a resident of the city, in possession of a handgun.

During questioning, he admitted to illegal hunting. There has been no word on charges or a fine.

No animals were found to have been injured by the gunfire.

Gazelle Valley was officially designated a protected space in 2015, after a 15-year struggle by activists to save the green space from residential developers.

The park, which stretches across 250 dunams (64 acres) and is situated between the city’s bustling Pat intersection and the Begin Highway, is currently home to 65 gazelles.

September 1 marks the beginning of Israel’s five-month hunting season.

Two months ago, the Society for the Protection of Nature in Israel, together with the animals rights organizations Animals Now and Let the Animals Live, launched a campaign to ban hunting for sport in the country and to increase fines for illegal hunting by amending the 1955 Wildlife Protection Law.

Tens of thousands of wildlife are reportedly killed each year as the result of legal and illegal hunting in the country. This includes hundreds of deer, porcupines, rabbits and thousands of birds.

Sue Surkers and Jessica Steinberg contributed to this report.

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