- The Washington Times - Friday, November 22, 2013

Two newborn lions at a Hamas-operated zoo in the Gaza Strip heralded as prized additions and a victory for Palestinians have died after just two days.

At fault are inexperienced zoo workers, said Mohammad Abdel-Rahman, the acting manager of the Beit Lahiya zoo, located in northern Gaza, the Associated Press reported.

The cubs had an undisclosed illness, but the staffers weren’t properly trained or equipped to care for them, he said.

Hamas had showcased the cubs, one of each sex, and named them after last year’s fighting with Israel: Fajr and Sejil. Fajr is the name of an Iranian-type missile that was used by Hamas militants in the combat, and Sejil was the actual name of the battle campaign, AP reported.

The cubs’ mother had been smuggled from Africa into Gaza via a tunnel system that runs from Egypt.

Hamas authorities had been patting themselves on the back for the births, saying it was the first time lions were born in the Gaza. A militant wing of Hamas tweeted shortly after the cubs’ births: “Despite Israel’s unjust siege, Palestinians managed to smuggle these two lions to draw a smile on faces of Gaza kids.”

AP reported that zoos in the region have a poor record of maintaining good conditions for zoo animals.

• Cheryl K. Chumley can be reached at cchumley@washingtontimes.com.

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