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Human Rights Organizations in the Gaza Strip Condemn the Kidnap of a French Journalist and Demand His Immediate Release

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22 August 2005

On August 14th, Mohamed Ouathi, a French national of Algerian origin was kidnapped in Gaza City.
Ouathi, who is a sound technician with French Channel Three, has now been held for a week.
No news of his whereabouts, or the identity or motivations of his kidnappers has been released.
We condemn Ouathi’s kidnap in the strongest terms possible.
The security situation and respect for the rule of law in Gaza have deteriorated to an unacceptable degree.
Foreigners and Palestinians alike are the victims of this situation – while foreigners fear kidnap, Palestinians fear the return of violent inter-factional clashes.
Both the spate of kidnappings and inter-factional violence project an extremely negative image of Palestinians and the Palestinian cause.
This can only adversely affect Palestinians, and lead to the exit of international organizations that play a vital role in the Occupied Palestinian Territory.
Indeed the general state of lawlessness has already led to the evacuation of some foreign UN workers and a temporary suspension of some field activity by the International Committee of the Red Cross.
Ouathi’s kidnap is also particularly disturbing because he is a member of the media.
Journalists and their support staff play a critical role in relaying information about the situation of the Palestinians to the outside world.
Their presence is critical.
We have been informed that tens of journalists have refrained from coming to Gaza as a direct result of the kidnappings.
It is thus all the more important that the targeting of journalists be roundly denounced.
It must be pointed out that the Palestinian National Authority is the entity responsible for upholding the rule of law in the Gaza Strip and it is the PNA’s reluctance to actively pursue and bring to justice the perpetrators of these actions that has created today’s situation.
We call on the Palestinian people to join us in condemning this kidnapping.
We also call on the kidnappers to immediately release Ouathi.
We ask the Palestinian National Authority to significantly increase and improve their current investigation, in order to locate Ouathi as soon as possible.
Further, we call on the PNA to take immediate and effective action to tackle the deterioration of the security situation in the Gaza Strip and reinstitute respect for the rule of law.
Finally, we ask the Palestinian people to show their solidarity with Ouathi’s family and friends and to support all efforts to secure his release.
End Center for Democracy and Workers Rights
Ad Dameer – Gaza
Al Mezan Center for Human Rights
Gaza Community Mental Health Program
Palestinian Center for Human Rights