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The Palestinian Kids & Qalqilya Zoo!

Fadi Abu Sa’ada – For over four years now – which is my child's age - I have not succeeded in taking him to the zoo. I want to begin teaching him about simple things, such as the animals. The reason for the inability to do so is not simply that I am out of money. I do not I have permission to enter occupied Jerusalem to accompany him to the zoo, as it is the closest zoo to my town of Bethlehem, which is also occupied in the West Bank.

Last Thursday a group of friends decided to take their kids on an adventure, the destination was the zoo in occupied Jerusalem, I asked them to take my child with them, as I can not leave my work to join them. After a long discussion whether my child, Majd, will be able to cross the military checkpoint at the northern entrance of Bethlehem alone, without parents, without a birth certificate, my friends decided to take him and give it a try.

After nearly half an hour I received the first phone call. They succeeded crossing the checkpoint. I was deeply happy that my child finally will go to the zoo for the first time in his life. And not this only, but he was able to go on a journey that I was not able to take him on for the many reasons created by occupation.

Half an hour separated me from the second phone call, telling me that an Israeli soldier who was at the gate of the zoo by chance, refused to let them enter the zoo. The argument he gave them is that there is a closure imposed on the West Bank and Gaza Strip because of Jewish holidays. Despite trying to convince him that they have permits, and they actually crossed the main military checkpoint, the soldier still refused them entry. All the attempts failed.

I was only thinking of my poor child and his feelings in spite of all the excuses that everyone tried to make. They could not convince him that the reason is the occupation, and that it is up to the mood of the Israeli soldier who prevented them from entering, regardless of the reasons given by him.

I called my friends again, asking them to look for any place in Jerusalem that any types of animals in it, and to accompany my child with their children. His dream to see new animals had waited so long already, and this trip specifically. Thank God they found a garden with five types of animals inside, and the trip went well. My child returned talking excitedly about the great trip!

Although the northern West Bank city of Qalqilia is very far from us, and reaching there is really coasty, and despite the Israeli siege by the Wall which surrounds the city with only one gate to enter it, I say to all: go to Qalqilia Zoo. There is a lot to see there. It is also a Palestinian zoo, and more importantly your children will not suffer like those who have had the experience of my child. May God bless our children with a better life for them and for the coming generations.