After 114 days of Alan's captivity, this is wonderful news from Gaza.
Last night I was visiting my friend Abu Joudat and his family, who live right next to the Doughmosh clan, some of their members were the ones holding Alan. I got to Abu Joudat’s house after 10pm and the street was full of checkpoints, and masked gunmen in some areas. These scenes are not new in Gaza and yet in the past three weeks there has been very little of this. There was much talk that Hamas had taken the spokesman of the Islamic Army hostage along with other clan members while the Islamic Army had taken some Hamas members and negotiations were under way.
Abu Joudat predicted to me he expected this to be the night Alan would be freed. At 6:30am he called and confirmed his prediction. Alan was amazingly calm in a press conference. After a nice homos breakfast with all the Hamas leadership he is now off to Jerusalem.
Here, a timeline of his time in captivity.
Alan's freeing is incredible proof of Hamas’ ability to ascertain law and order, Fatah and no one else was ever able to do the same. Sadly I doubt this will change international leaders relations with Hamas, who are calling for both negotiations with Fatah’s new emergency government as well as with Israel. Neither is replying. I am pleased that Hamas have made Gaza a much safer place to live in again. Radio stations in Gaza aired many callers who were relieved and overjoyed at Alan’s release. Today Gaza loses a true friend, who lived in Gaza for three years as the only international journalist to be stationed here full-time, telling of the plight of the Palestinians.
The fact that beaches have been packed over the past weeks is proof of Hamas’ ability to bring security. For many in Gaza the beach is really the only distraction, the only escape from the unemployment and poverty. While conflict continued between Fatah and Hamas in the past many months, beaches remained rather empty, few people had the nerve to seek such enjoyment under those circumstances. By 8pm most nights the streets were almost completely empty.
Now all that has changed. Yesterday, a regular workday, the beaches were full. Even by 9pm in the Northern Gaza Strip, just kilometers from Israel’s border and the very site where an entire family was murdered when Israeli tanks shelled a beach one year ago families were still out enjoying the summer and the new found safety in the Gaza Strip.
Let us hope that this summer will bring some quiet for the people of Gaza.