Abbas aide says rescue of Alan Johnston was staged by Hamas

July 04, 2007


1. Abbas aide says rescue of Alan Johnston was staged
2. Hamas scores a propaganda victory and the British fall for it
3. Anyone for justice?

I attach three items posted by myself today on the National Review website concerning the release early this morning of kidnapped BBC reporter Alan Johnston. For previous dispatches on Johnston, please see here.



[Notes below by Tom Gross]

Ha’aretz reports:

A senior aide to Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas said Wednesday that the release of BBC reporter Alan Johnston in the Gaza Strip was “a movie” staged by Hamas, who took credit for securing the release.

Yasser Abed Rabbo said that Hamas’ release of the Briton, held in Gaza for nearly four months by the custody of militant group Army of Islam, had been staged, as the two groups were in league with each other. He said Hamas staged the rescue in order to “appear as if [Hamas] respects international law.”

“We’re watching a movie, where the thieves in Gaza fall out and one of them claims to be honest and brave, and the other is the bad guy. This Hamas game fools no one,” Rabbo said…



[Note by Tom Gross]

We can all be extremely pleased that BBC journalist Alan Johnston has been released safe and well after being held hostage for over 3 and half months in the Gaza Strip.

Less heartening is that David Miliband, the new British Foreign Secretary (minister) who only assumed office last Friday, in virtually his first public statement in the job, has gone out of his way to praise Hamas:

“I fully acknowledge the crucial role Hamas have played in securing this happy outcome,” Miliband said this morning.

The BBC has also been featuring interviewees all morning that praise Hamas.

* This is the same Hamas who only two weeks ago were throwing fellow Palestinians from Gaza rooftops and dismembering the bodies of others they had murdered.

* This is the same Hamas which are world leaders in the art of the Islamist suicide bomb, an “art” which almost killed unknown numbers in Britain this past weekend.

The Guardian, never a newspaper to shy away from giving Hamas plenty of publicity and taking their statements at face value, quotes Mahmoud Zahar, the Hamas “foreign minister,” this morning as saying:

“Every kidnapping, every illegal behavior, we will fight with all our force, the force of law, the force of moral principles.”

Yet it is Hamas who have been holding 20-year-old kidnapped Israeli Gilad Shalit in a hole in the ground ringed by explosives in a densely populated area of Gaza City for over a year now.

When interviewing Hamas spokesmen this morning about Johnston’s release, the anchors for CNN International and for the British network Sky News at least had the professionalism to ask them if they would now release the young Shalit. The BBC interviewers didn’t even mention Shalit but instead kept on repeating (wrongly) that Johnston was the longest held captive in Gaza. But then anyone who actually wants objective and accurate information about the Middle East long ago stopped relying on the BBC.



[Note by Tom Gross]

Unlike the BBC and the British government, The New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists has been forthright in calling on the:

“Palestinian authorities to see that those responsible are located and swiftly brought to justice. As long as those who abduct journalists continue to enjoy impunity, journalists will remain increasingly vulnerable to future attacks.”

At least 16 journalists have been abducted in the Gaza Strip since 2004. None of those responsible for abducting journalists have been brought to justice.

Meanwhile the BBC website is quoting Johnston as saying:

“I was in Gaza for three years, and I know very well what Palestinian culture is, and the extraordinary warmth and hospitality – especially of Gaza. I knew that the handful of people that kidnapped me were a complete aberration – something completely other. My memories of Gaza will be very much of the best kind, despite what happened to me.”

All notes and summaries copyright © Tom Gross. All rights reserved.