Gaza protest 88.
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Scores of Palestinian journalists and human rights activists demonstrated outside the building of the Palestinian Legislative Council in Gaza City on Saturday to protest the abduction of foreign journalists in the Gaza Strip in recent months.
The demonstration, which took place while the council was meeting for a vote of confidence on the new Hamas-led coalition, managed to draw the attention of many legislators and foreign diplomats.
Calling for the release of BBC correspondent Allan Johnston, who was kidnapped by unidentified gunmen in Gaza City five days ago, the protesters called on the new Palestinian government to work toward ending the state of lawlessness and anarchy in PA-controlled areas.
The protesters strongly condemned recurring abductions of foreign journalists in the Gaza Strip, saying such actions tarnish the image of the Palestinians.
Newly-installed Palestinian Authority Information Minister Mustafa Barghouti, who spoke to the demonstrators, called for taking severe measures against those involved in the kidnappings. He said all the parties represented in the new coalition will stress the need to restore law and order.
"We are opposed to the kidnapping of foreign journalists who serve the Palestinian cause," he added. "In the coming year we will all witness changes to the better as the government starts functioning."
Shahdi Kashef, editor-in-chief of the independent Ramattan News Agency, said in a message to the Palestinian legislators that he and his colleagues were fed up with having to live "under the constant threat of weapons." He warned that Palestinian journalists will announce a series of steps to step up the pressure on the government to restore law and order.
Others speakers at the event hailed the BBC correspondent as a staunch supporter of the Palestinian cause and peace and called on the kidnappers to release him immediately.