Animal rights group PETA said on Wednesday it would protest to a Hamas-run TV channel after a clip from a program showing animals being abused appeared on YouTube, prompting scores of complaints from viewers worldwide.
“It’s shocking and sickening,” said Martin Mersereau, manager of the domestic animal abuse division of U.S.-based People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA).
Speaking to Reuters by telephone, he said PETA was drafting a letter of protest to the Gaza-based al-Aqsa television station, which aired the show -- aimed at teaching children not to abuse animals -- last week.
A segment of the program was posted on the YouTube video-sharing Web site after being recorded and translated by pro-Israeli group Palestinian Media Watch.
An official at the TV station declined immediate comment.
The YouTube clip shows an actor dressed as a bee mistreating a cat and lions at Gaza Zoo. In the studio, he is reprimanded by the program’s host, who cautions children against mimicking the bee’s “terrible” behavior.
“Any lessons meant to be contained in this segment are almost certainly lost on most children, who are more likely to imitate people they see treating animals cruelly rather than understand this behavior is wrong,” Mersereau said.
Gaza Zoo veterinarian Saoud al-Shawa said he had not been consulted before the program was filmed, but believed there was no harm in educational shows aimed at lowering violence among children.
“Even at the zoo, we sometimes complain about the aggressive behavior of some of the children,” he said. “But we do not blame them. We blame the violent environment that surrounds them -- Israeli violence and Palestinian-Palestinian violence too.”
Israel pulled troops and settlers out of the Gaza Strip in 2005. Islamist Hamas took control of the territory in June after civil war with the long-dominant Fatah faction.
The Hamas-run TV station made world headlines in June when it featured a character who resembled Disney’s Mickey Mouse advocating Palestinian attacks against Israelis. “Farfur” was later “beaten to death” by an actor depicted as an Israeli.