Tuesday, March 27, 2007
I never met Alan Johnston but everyone I have talked to who knows him has spoken very highly of him. He was humble, he was quiet and serious and he was determined to communicate the reality of life in Gaza to the world. Not a single person I have asked about his kidnapping has anything but condemnation for the perpetrators.
Yesterday marked two weeks since his kidnapping and no one has either made demands for his release, or taken responsibility for the crime. There was no local news to be heard all day as all local radio stations were on strike to call for Alan’s release. A large sign looms near the Palestinian parliament building in central Gaza City calling for his release.
This morning I had breakfast in my favorite breakfast joint. There too hung a sign, “free Alan Johnston”.
Few are surprised at the incident, since crime in Gaza has reached unprecedented levels. Cars are stolen, homes broken into, young and old alike are mugged in broad daylight.
A woman tried to smuggle three small crocodiles into Gaza, strapped to her body as she entered the border from Egypt. She was going to sell them to the local Zoo. The contraband was confiscated, for in Gaza this too, is considered a crime.
The financial embargo on the PA means that besides the 40% of Gazans that are unemployed another 30% who are government employees are not being paid. Aid agencies are keeping the Palestinian people alive. This society will soon collapse, it is beginning to already.
Smuggling crocodiles and kidnapping foreign journalists is scarce potential income.