italian photog kidnapped.
(photo credit: AP)
Associated Press photographer Emilio Morenatti was released in good health Tuesday night in the Gaza Strip.
Palestinian Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh on Tuesday said his government would exert its "maximum efforts" to guarantee Morenatti's safe release.
Gunmen kidnap Palestinian journalist (archive)
Haniyeh told the AP that he has instructed Interior Minister Said Siyam, who oversees most security forces, to solve the case. There has as yet been no claim of responsibility for the kidnapping.
Palestinian gunmen kidnapped Morenatti in the Gaza Strip earlier Tuesday, grabbing him as he walked out of his apartment and whisking him away in their vehicle, a witness said.
"The government is exerting its maximum efforts to guarantee the safe return of Emilio back to his family and his colleagues in the agency," Haniyeh said after meeting a delegation of AP representatives.
Haniyeh said the kidnapping "contradicts Palestinian morals and heritage." He also expressed solidarity with Morenatti's family and the AP team in Gaza.
Morenatti, 37, was heading out of his apartment for an AP car, where Majed Hamdan, an AP driver and translator, was waiting. Hamdan said four gunmen grabbed his keys and phone and told him to turn away, pressing a gun to his head and threatening to harm him if he moved.
Then they grabbed Morenatti, shoved him into a white Volkswagen and drove off, Hamdan said.
Ghazi Hamad, spokesman for the Hamas-led Palestinian government, condemned the kidnapping, saying it "damages the reputation of the Palestinian people."
"The government will take all steps to ensure his release," Hamad said.
Morenatti, from Jerez, Spain, has been working for the AP in Jerusalem since April 2005. As part of his job, he would periodically go to the Gaza Strip and the West Bank. Previously, Morenatti covered the war in Afghanistan for the AP. He also worked for EFE, the Spanish news agency.
Palestinian terrorists in Gaza have often kidnapped foreign journalists and aid workers. All those kidnapped have been released unharmed. In August, two Fox News journalists were kidnapped in Gaza and held for two weeks.