BBC reporter well respected in Gaza

Reactions in Gaza range from criticism of the government to disgust at kidnapping.

by
    Alan Johnston's pictures and posters are hard to miss on the streets of Gaza

    Public campaign

    Johnston's pictures and posters are hard to miss on the streets of Gaza.

    Restaurants where he used to eat and shops were he used to buy groceries have all joined the public campaign demanding the release of the veteran BBC correspondent.

    For three years, Johnston did not just cover Gaza, he lived amongst the Palestinians, telling their stories to the world and earning their respect in one of the most difficult places a journalist can work.

    Following his kidnapping, fellow journalists in Gaza were so outraged that they set up a commemorative tent in the heart of Gaza as a public repudiation and denunciation of his abduction.

    For weeks Palestinian supporters have been coming to this tent in solidarity with Johnston and demanding his release.

    Professional

    If you have not seen one of Johnston's reports or have not met him on the streets of Gaza, you only have to come here to see how he was regarded by Palestinians.

    Ibrahim Edwan a BBC producer, has worked with Johnston in Gaza for three years.

    Edwan said: "Alan is a productive journalist and he is a very good professional reporter as well. He's one of the few people I met from the BBC that is really active and professional and never get tired from his work."

    And there was something else everyone we spoke to remembers about Johnston.

    Abu Eyad, a local doorman, said: "He didn’t like to be spoken to in English. He only wanted us to speak to him in Arabic. He only liked to speak in Arabic."

    It was Johnston's way of getting to know the people he cared about the most.

    Fellow Palestinian

    Abu Al Abed, a restaurant owner, said: "We condemn this act because it is not in the interest of the Palestinian cause and the Palestinian people. These foreign journalists, we consider them Palestinians."

    Johnston's release has been taken up by the highest levels of the Palestinian government.

    His kidnapping has scared away many foreign journalists and aid workers reluctant to work in an increasingly lawless Gaza Strip.

    Palestinians are now concerned that if the likes of Johnston, who dedicated his life to reporting about their plight are silenced, who will remain to tell their story to the outside world.

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera


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