Last foreign hostage in Gaza released

Citizens of at least four nations were abducted by gunmen on Tuesday.

PFLP brit council 298.88 (photo credit: AP)
PFLP brit council 298.88
(photo credit: AP)
Palestinian terrorists on Wednesday released the last four foreigners, including a South Korean journalist and two French citizens, a day after seizing them in response to an Israeli raid on a West Bank prison, Palestinian security officials said. The release of the hostages left just one foreigner, a Canadian, in captivity. Palestinian gunmen seized a total of 11 foreigners after the Israeli raid on Tuesday. Officials at the South Korean Embassy were unable to confirm Wednesday's release. They said the embassy had recently cautioned citizens against traveling to Gaza. The security officials said the three remaining hostages were being released in the southern Gaza town of Khan Younis and were expected in Gaza City within an hour. The officials said, however, that they could not yet confirm whether the kidnappers had turned over the hostages to Palestinian security forces. Palestinian gunmen on Tuesday kidnapped and threatened to kill Douglas Johnson, an American professor in the West Bank town of Jenin, officials at the American University said. The kidnapping came as violence erupted in the Palestinian territories over the Israeli siege and subsequent raid of a West Bank prison in Jericho. "This is a response to what Bush did today in Jericho," one of the gunmen, who declined to give his name, told the AP. "If Sa'adat or any of his colleagues are harmed in this operation, we'll kill this guy," he said, referring to Johnson. "If Sa'adat or one of his colleagues is harmed, we will attack American and British consulates everywhere." Johnson said he was unharmed and understood his abductors' actions. "They are angry over what is going on in Jericho. I feel sympathy with them and I call upon the American people to press the government to stop the Israeli operation in Jericho," he said. Following the flurry of abductions, foreigners in the Gaza Strip on Tuesday fled for the Israeli border with the help of the Palestinian police. "Everyone has left except for the head of the ICRC mission and us," said Grant Leaity, of the humanitarian aid organization Medicins Sans Frontier. "The UN is fully evacuated and the journalists have left too." Angry Palestinians abducted two French women doctors of Medecins du Monde, a Swiss delegate of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), and three unidentified foreigners. Two French journalists were also abducted, but it was unclear if they were from the hotel. The Swiss hostage, Julien Groflcaude, was released at around nine p.m. Tuesday evening. Three foreigners, two men and a woman, were grabbed at gunpoint from Deira, a stylish luxury hotel on the Gaza beachfront. A preventive security spokesman told Agence France Presse that two Australians, teachers at an American school, were also taken hostage but freed by Palestinian security forces and were among the group of foreigners who took refuge at police headquarters in Gaza.