The case of Alan Johnston, the BBC journalist kidnapped in Gaza on March 12 this year has several mysterious aspects.
Other kidnapped reporters have been freed on payment of ransom in a number of days. As a friendly journalist, it is in the interests of the Palestinians — both Hamas and Fatah — to get him freed. Yet the BBC claims that no demands have been made. Palestinian sources have said that they know who is holding him, and they are ‘working’ toward his release.
There was a rumor that an extremist (aren’t they all) Palestinian group had taken credit for killing him. Later reports say that he is in good health, but no pictures or other evidence of this has been provided.
I can see only two possibilities. One is that he has indeed been killed, either accidentally or on purpose. Perhaps he attempted to escape. And the other is that negotiations are in progress, but the amount of money demanded by the kidnappers is so enormous that even the BBC is balking at paying it.
Many former hostages have described their horrifying ordeals. Hostage-taking has come to be emblematic of Muslim ‘freedom-fighters’ as much as suicide bombing; and although this particular kidnapping is apparently not political, the culture that has given rise to it is the same.
We hope Johnston will be freed soon. The cruelty that seems to characterize the Palestinians quite reduces the impact of the ‘human rights’ arguments that they and their supporters like to apply to the Israeli security fence, etc.