'I was never afraid for myself, only of the outcome'

Former PA prisoner affairs minister Sufyan Abu Zaidah recalls his late night kidnapping by Hamas.

abu zaidah 298 (photo credit: AP)
abu zaidah 298
(photo credit: AP)
Former Palestinian Authority minister of prisoner affairs Sufyan Abu Zaidah who was kidnapped and released by masked Hamas gunmen on Monday said that he never thought he would be target. According to the top Fatah official, he was never afraid for himself, only for the outcome of the event. "I said, you can see I am not afraid for myself, I am afraid [however] for the consequences of me being here, for you taking me. You know my people. "My prediction was right, the pressure was high, phone calls were made by the highest ranks [of the movements]." Abu Zaidah was released after less than three hours in captivity. "It was about 8 p.m., I was in a car with two of my guards when were stopped by masked gunmen," he told Army Radio. Abu Zaidah described the looks on his captors' faces as if "they found something they were looking for. "They started screaming at us to stop the car while cocking their guns, shooting in the air and positioning themselves. "My guards also cocked their guns, but I told them that they were not to go anywhere because of the dangerous situation," Abu Zaidah said. Abu Zaidah knew that had his captors opened fire "we would have all been dead… there was [only] a second between life and death. "I got out of the car and then people I recognized arrived at the scene, Hamas members. "We are really sorry, they told me, we had no intention of doing this, but there are a few of our people that were kidnapped and we need to use you in order to pressure your people [to release them]." Abu Zaidah explained how they took him to "a house in the Jabaliya refugee camp," where upon arrival his attackers displayed a state of confusion, not knowing exactly what they were meant to do with him. They did not know what to do with their weapons, and shouted conflicting orders at their Fatah captive, such as "Sit down! Stand up!" A quarter of an hour later another group of people came to take him away to "a quieter place," where he was told not to react in any way, not "to cry or hit, and to be respectful. "I was told by people I know, not masked men, 'don't be scared' in order to calm me down, 'no one will harm you,' they said." Abu Zaidah's entire tribulation lasted between two to three hours when he was finally released at about 11 p.m. "I could have easily been killed…but I was never a target, not before the event," said Abu Zaida. When asked whether he thought that there was more hatred between Fatah and Hamas that the hatred Palestinians had as a whole towards Israel, Abu Zaidah only responded by admitting that there was plenty of hatred between Hamas and Fatah.