Palestinian mayor backtracks after dead dog reward outragePublished11 hours agoImage source, …

Palestinian mayor backtracks after dead dog reward outrage

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    11 hours ago
Image source, AFP
Image caption,

Diana Babish, who runs the West Bank’s only dog shelter, called it a “green light” to kill animals
By Yolande Knell
BBC News, Jerusalem

A Palestinian mayor whose offer of a bounty for killing stray dogs caused outrage among animal-lovers has backtracked, saying he was joking.

Hebron Mayor Tayseer Abu Sneineh had said those who killed strays in his city could get 20 shekels ($5.8; 5.7 euros) per dog.

Stills and videos were then widely shared on social media which apparently showed dogs being killed or abused.

Another mayor then encouraged people to also shoot dogs in his city.

Diana Babish, who runs the West Bank’s only dog shelter, in Beit Sahour south of Jerusalem, condemned what she said was “a green light to violate and kill and torture animals”.

Local animal rights groups estimate that there are a few thousand stray dogs across the West Bank. No formal animal rescue services exist.

Sometimes, strays – a mixture of what Palestinians call baladi (local) dogs and cross-breeds – gather in large packs and scavenge for food. Some can become aggressive and there are frequent complaints to Palestinian councils who often poison and shoot the dogs.

With most of the occupied West Bank under full Israeli military and administrative control, there is no joined-up strategy for dealing with the problem.

Speaking on a local radio station last week, Mr Abu Sneineh was asked about the issue in Hebron. He admitted that he had not consulted other council members but announced the idea of offering a fee for killing a dog.

“It means that if a person brings or kills five dogs and stopped their danger on the street, they will be given 100 shekels,” he said.

Image source, Beit Sahour dog shelter
Image caption,

One of several dogs rescued by volunteers in Hebron and taken to the shelter

The videos which followed seemed to show dogs being shot, tormented and beaten. Some footage that was shared appeared old or fake.

A group of young Hebronites was so upset that they took to hanging up posters opposing the action at council sites – many of which were quickly torn down.

“The main idea was to educate and share awareness among the public and the municipality that our religion, traditions and history as Palestinians doesn’t accept killing or abusing or treating any kind of animal in a bad way,” says Fida Juneidi.

The volunteers also offered to remove any strays and took some to the dog shelter, which is full to capacity, but gives medical care and attempts to rehome them.

After days of furore – with attention from Palestinian and Israeli media – and meetings with animal rights groups, Mr Abu Sneinah told the BBC that there had been “overreaction” to his comment on the dogs which he now says was meant “as a joke to highlight the problem”.

In the northern city of Tulkarm, whose mayor endorsed the practice, local authorities now say they will work with police to control the canine population.

It became a major talking point among Palestinians on social media. One Instagram post showed a German shepherd armed with a rifle saying: “Dogs in Hebron after the statements of its mayor.”