'They don't want the world to see the anarchy'

Journalists urge boycott of PA to protest BBC colleague's capture.

The Palestinian Journalists Syndicate on Saturday called on the local and foreign media to boycott the Palestinian Authority in response to the kidnapping of BBC correspondent Alan Johnston in Gaza City three weeks ago. Meanwhile, a prominent human rights activist in the Gaza Strip expressed fear that the kidnapping of foreign journalists was designed to "prevent the world from seeing what's really happening here." It's obvious, the activist said, "that those behind the kidnappings want to have a monopoly over the news coverage in the Gaza Strip. They don't want the world to see the anarchy on the streets and the infighting between Fatah and Hamas. Unfortunately, they have succeeded in achieving their goal because most foreign journalists are today afraid to come to the Gaza Strip." Naim Toubasi, chairman of the syndicate, told The Jerusalem Post that the boycott would begin on Monday and continue for three days. "We have called on all journalists to refrain from covering any news about the Palestinian Authority, including the government, to protest against the continued abduction of the BBC reporter," he said. Toubasi accused the PA of failing to do its utmost to secure the release of Johnston. "We're not convinced that the Palestinian Authority is making a big effort to release the reporter," he added. "We want President Mahmoud Abbas to order the Palestinian security forces to make a huge effort to free him. His continued abduction is causing great damage to the reputation of the Palestinians. We hold the murderous kidnappers responsible for distorting the image of the Palestinians in the eyes of the world." Toubasi also called on Palestinian journalists to demonstrate in Gaza City and Ramallah on Monday to demand the release of Johnston. No group has claimed responsibility of the abduction and the motives of the kidnappers remain unknown. Johnston is the third foreign journalist to be kidnapped in the Gaza Strip in the past seven months. PA security officials told the Post that they were looking into the possibility that some Palestinian journalists in the Gaza Strip may have been involved in the kidnappings. They claimed that local journalists have been trying to keep foreign journalists away from the Gaza Strip for fear that they would take their jobs. "We have evidence that at least in one case Palestinian journalists were involved in a kidnapping," the officials said. "Before accusing the Palestinian Authority, the journalists should launch an investigation into what's happening in their ranks."