GAZA CITY (AFP) – A senior Palestinian official said on Saturday that a military operation to free kidnapped BBC journalist Alan Johnston would be justified if peaceful means fail.
“The government should acquire the release of Johnston,” chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erakat said of the reporter who has been missing in the Gaza Strip for over 80 days.
“Should they fail through dialogue and peaceful means, in my opinion, a security operation will be justified,” Erakat told AFP.
The militants holding Johnston on Friday released the first video footage of Johnston, in which he said he was in good health and being well treated.
Outgoing British Prime Minister Tony Blair and Palestinian premier Ismail Haniya both called for Johnston’s immediate release after the video was published on the Internet.
He was the only Western journalist based permanently in Gaza City when he was abducted at gunpoint on March 12, and is by far the longest-held Westerner in the increasingly dangerous and impoverished territory.