GAZA – Masked gunmen kidnapped an Italian activist in the Gaza Strip on Sunday and police tried to negotiate for his release.
The kidnapping was a blow to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas only a few hours after he had vowed to end an upsurge of hostage taking and unrest that threatened to derail elections due on January 25.
The gunmen seized the hostage during a visit by a delegation of 18 Italians ahead of the election. The kidnapping came just three days after three British hostages were set free in Gaza…
Hours earlier, gunmen stormed a U.N. club in Gaza City and blew up the bar — the only place where alcohol is served openly in the conservative Muslim territory. Nobody was hurt, but the attack added to security fears.
Chaos has grown in the Gaza Strip since the departure of Israeli troops in September after 38 years of occupation intensified a power struggle among militant factions, gangs and security forces…
Militant factions said that as of January 1 they had abandoned the de facto truce that has delivered the longest decrease in violence since the start of a Palestinian uprising in 2000
Israeli fire killed two Palestinian militants in Gaza on Saturday after rocket attacks from a “no-go zone” it decreed in the north of the strip last week to curb such cross-border fire.
Palestinians say the buffer zone is tantamount to re-occupying areas that Israel gave up last year…
UPDATE from Reuters:
GAZA – Palestinian security forces said they had freed an Italian hostage who was kidnapped by masked gunmen in the Gaza Strip on Sunday. Security forces said that the Italian peace activist was being taken to a compound in the southern Gaza city of Khan Younis.
“Our forces surrounded the area and the kidnappers fled in fear and left the hostage behind,” said a member of the Preventive Security force.