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Wednesday, July 4, 2007

Yasser Abd Rabbo: Hamas release of BBC reporter was staged.

According to Ha'aretz, Yasser abd Rabbo has claimed that the rescue of Alan Johnston was staged:

A senior aide to Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas dismissed Wednesday the release of BBC reporter Alan Johnston, calling it "a movie" staged by Hamas, who took credit for securing the release.
Yasser Abd Rabbo said Wednesday that Hamas' release of the Briton, held in Gaza for nearly four months, from 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.
Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas hailed Johnston's release, calling him the Palestinian people's friend. Abbas said militias like the Army of Islam destroy the authority of law and create a chaotic situation and must be dismantled.
Prime Minister Ehud Olmert congratulated Johnston on his release, saying in a statement that Israel joins in the happiness of his family and all of Britain.
British Prime Minister Gordon Brown said in a statement Wednesday that Johnston's release will come as a great relief to his family and friends and all those who have worked to see him freed.
Ahmed Yousef, an aide to Hamas leader in Gaza Ismail Haniyeh, told Sky News that Johnston's release proved Hamas can establish law and order. "Gaza is safe, Gaza is clean, Gaza is green," Yousef said, referring to the color of the Hamas flag.
Following Johnston's release, Hamas spokesman Ghazi Hamad called for renewed dialogue with Abbas so that "we can return to a normal situation."
Earlier Wednesday, Haniyeh said that he hoped that Johnston's release would set a precedent for a deal with Israel to free Israel Defense Forces Gilad Shalit, held in captivity in Gaza since last June.
"As the case of Alan Johnston has ended, we hope that the case of the Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit may end too in an honorable deal that would secure the release of our hero prisoners from Israeli jails," Haniyeh told a news conference in Gaza City.
Shalit was seized from an Israeli border post by militants belonging to Hamas as well as other groups, who are demanding the release of Palestinian prisoners held in Israel in exchange for the soldier's freedom.
Haniyeh said there was a possibility to for a deal if Israel used "logic and reason" to end the suffering of the Palestinian prisoners.
In a statement released by the Prime Minister's Media Adviser on Wednesday, Israel praised Johnston's release saying, "the State of Israel congratulates BBC journalist Alan Johnston on his release by his kidnappers and shares in the joy of his family and that of the entire British people.
Israel demands that soldier Gilad Shalit, who was abducted to the Gaza Strip over one year ago, also be released by his kidnappers, who belong to Hamas. As is known, the Hamas members holding him are ? in effect ? preventing the release of Palestinian prisoners as has been agreed upon."
Johnston was handed over by his captors to Hamas predawn Wednesday. The 45-year-old Briton was taken into the care of officials from the Hamas movement, which seized full control of Gaza three weeks ago.
"I was released a couple of hours ago as you can imagine. Occasionally quite terrifying... Now it really is over," Johnston told BBC World from the home of Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh in Gaza City.
At a joint press conference with Haniyeh in Gaza City, Johnston said that his kidnappers "did threaten my life a number of times in various ways."

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