4 July 2007, Al Jazeera English will air an exclusive interview with Sheikh Saleh Dughmush today conducted by Rageh Omaar (Sheikh Saleh is the head of the Dughmush family that is widely believed to be responsible for kidnapping Alan Johnston).
In an exclusive interview with Sheikh Saleh Dughmush, Rageh discovered the extent to which Gaza is ruled by clans and how understanding clan power is key to understanding how the territory is run.
Sheikh Saleh denied his clan had been involved in the kidnapping of Alan Johnston. "I completely reject these allegations," said Sheikh Saleh, "and if we felt that there is a one-in-a-million chance that this is correct, we would have found him wherever he was, because we have a reputation of our forefathers to protect the innocent."
The Sheikh added that there was a double standard at play in the international outcry over the kidnapping of Alan Johnston. "The Israelis arrest people left, right and centre, using the excuse of terrorism. When one Westerner seems to be under threat the whole world stops and pays attention."
Rageh also met Ala'a al Homs, the head of the Al Aqsa Martyr Brigades in Gaza. Al-Homs briefly came out of hiding to speak to Rageh about his group’s kidnapping of British aid worker Kate Burton and her parents in December 2005. Burton and her parents were freed several days after their abduction.
Rageh asked Al-Homs if he now believes it was a mistake to kidnap foreigners. "When people are drowning they hold on to a thread and I think the kidnappings were an expression of that. It was misguided thinking." Al-Homs says he now believes kidnappings damaged the Palestinian case.
Exploring beyond the headlines of foreign kidnappings, Rageh discovered that it is all the people of Gaza who are suffering. And while they all rejoice in Alan Johnston's release, they are still hostages in Gaza.
Rageh ventured to Gaza at the end of May to investigate the story behind the kidnappings of foreigners and to take a deeper look into the worsening plight of the people in Gaza. He discovered that the people of Gaza themselves are hostage to international sanctions, Israeli military encirclement and economic siege.
The Witness programme, "Hostage In Gaza", Al Jazeera English language channel's flagship daily documentary strand, will be screened at the following times:
Wednesday 4th July 2007: 16.30 GMT, 20.30 GMT, 23.30 GMT
Thursday 5th July 2007: 02.30 GMT, 04.30 GMT, 12.30 GMT
About Al Jazeera English
Al Jazeera English is the world’s first English language news and current affairs channel to be headquartered in the Middle East. Broadcasting from within the Middle East, looking outwards, Al Jazeera English sets the news agenda and acts as a bridge between cultures. With unique access as the channel of reference for Middle East events, and broadcast centres strategically placed around the world in Doha, Kuala Lumpur, London and Washington DC, Al Jazeera English balances the information flow from South to North, providing accurate, impartial and objective news for a global audience from a grass roots level, giving voice to different perspectives from under-reported regions around the world.
Al Jazeera English is building on the ground-breaking heritage of its sister Arab-language channel – Al Jazeera, which was responsible for changing the face of news within the Middle East, now extending that fresh perspective from regional to global.
Visit www.aljazeera.net/english for more details.
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