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Thursday, May 20, 2004

Gaza Arabs try to kidnap James Bennet of the New York Times

RAFAH, Gaza Strip (Reuters) - A New York Times correspondent narrowly escaped a kidnap attempt by Palestinians while covering a massive Israeli army raid into Gaza's Rafah refugee camp, the newspaper said on Thursday.

James Bennet, bureau chief for Israel and the Palestinian territories, said he was speaking on a cellphone in front of a Rafah hospital on Wednesday when a Palestinian he did not know came up, smiled and offered his hand, saying "Welcome."

When Bennet shook his hand, the man and another Palestinian grabbed him and tried to thrust him into an old Mercedes car that pulled up with its back door open, recalling kidnappings of foreigners by Muslim militants in wartime Beirut in the 1980s.

An abduction was averted only by police at the hospital, who ran to Bennet's assistance in response to his struggle and cries. The men then jumped in the car and sped away, the correspondent said in his dispatch in Thursday's Times.

You can read the rest, but it basically just says that this is highly unusual (except for the last time it happened), is due to anti-American sentiment (blame George Bush) which in turn is due to Bush's "pro-Israel tilt" (blame Ariel Sharon), and lastly, that the Foreign Press Association urged officials on both sides to protect journalists.

That's very balanced of them, don't you think? To urge Israel, too, not to kidnap New York Times reporters? Very balanced and very necessary. After all, according to opinion at the New York Times, the Jewish "settlers" in Gaza are no different than Arab terrorists. You just never know when religious Jews - with their "religious messiansim," "absolutist visions," and "disdain for man-made laws" - might just, well, do anything.