By: Ruba Anabtawi
The crime of hanging and killing foxes in northern Palestine
Exclusive to Environment and Development Horizons (Afaq magazine):
Occasionally, shocking material is posted on social media. Though not political, Palestinians have such posts as a method to document their harsh reality under occupation. The posts are about creatures that used to live at peace, that is before the violence and murder got to them. At times, posts were on deer, at other times on hyenas. Most recently, a post about putting to death two foxes hung by ropes in northern Palatine triggered contestation. The scene provoked every environmentalist, leaving everybody to keep asking the one question: Why are the killers are so confident?
This picture went viral on social media credit to many environment enthusiasts, one of whom is a youth from Ramallah, Mohammad Sheaibi. He did not hesitate to share it as an expression of his strong resentment to this violent act. Sheaibi, whose hobby for the past five years is photographing nature and whose Facebook page is filled with tens of high-quality pictures of wild animals, appreciates the beauty of that world and know how difficult it is to get near its creatures; as they are extremely canny livings, distrustful of humans, and active mostly at night.
“It’s tiresome to capture a picture of a bird. It might take seven continuous hours. Photographing foxes is no exception, as it might take days and months” says Sheaibi, who was very saddened by the way of killing those foxes and other wild animals, especially the endangered ones such as hyenas and deer. “From watching and observing foxes, I know it is a harmless animal. It fears humans and rarely comes near them. It feeds on poultry and butchery waste, so in the vicinity of their food source, foxes are active and night”, explains Sheaibi.
Informing the Police, But …
For Sheaibi, disseminating the photograph was not enough. He tells our magazine that he gave the governorate police the name of the aggressor, as was given to him by the owner of the original photograph. To the best of his knowledge, the aggressor was called in for investigation, but he does not know what happened after that.
Afaq magazine contacted the police officer in the said governorate. Requesting us not to disclose his name, the officer affirmed that they were indeed informed, but no evidence of the executed foxes was found in the area, and the man in question denied any wrongdoing. He explains that, legally, the police cannot press charges without concrete evidence. “If an aggressor killed the animal”, continues the police officer, “but was not caught red handed, nor did he confess, and as the killing was not documented with a photograph or a video, then the aggressor will not be accused based on mere suspicions or second party accusation”.
The officer, who is part of the Environmental Police, assured Agaq of the many reports the police receives. They are reports of sellers of wild animals prohibited in the Palestinian markets. He explains that the police can only confiscate the animals and then release them in the wilds, and aggressors are presented to justice. He stressed the fact that most of the environmental complaints reaching the police are of assaults on trees, theft of antiquities, and sewerage mismanagement.
The “source” called upon any citizen, who saw any environmental violation or harm being inflected to a wild animal, to contact the police or environmental directorates. Complaints will be followed up upon as soon as possible.
Translated by: Carol Khoury