Photographer kidnapped in Gaza

The Palestinian president has ordered a search for the kidnapped journalist.

    Jaime Razuri was kidnapped as he entered his office
    in Gaza City [AFP]
    Mahmoud Abbad, the Palestinian president, ordered a search search for Razuri, according to a Palestinian Authority official.
    The Foreign Press Association, a Tel Aviv-based organisation representing foreign journalists in Israel and the Palestinian areas, condemned the kidnapping.
    "We utterly condemn the continued harassment of journalists in this way. We must be allowed to work freely and without fear of kidnapping in Gaza," the FPA said in a statement.
    About 20 foreigners, including journalists and aid workers, have been kidnapped in Gaza over the last year and all were released soon after being abducted.
    Razuri's kidnapping is the latest in a string of kidnappings of foreigners in Gaza in recent months.
    Most have been carried out by disgruntled workers seeking concessions from the Palestinian Authority rather than from foreign governments.
    Al Jazeera's correspondent in Gaza, Nour Odeh, said: "In the past it hasn't always been clear why the kidnappings happen but they are are generally always regarded very negatively by the Palestinian public."
    Rivals clash
    In northern Gaza, tensions between rival Palestinian factions flared on Monday when Fatah fighters kidnapped 10 armed members of the governing Hamas group.
    Hamas members also seized seven Fatah supporters, sources from both factions said.
    The abductions sparked gun battles between the factions, which wounded three Palestinians caught in the crossfire, including a boy, Palestinian rescue workers said.
    All were later freed after both sides agreed to swap captives, sources from the groups said.
    Restrictions lifted

    In the occupied West Bank, Israel began easing restrictions at checkpoints as promised by Ehud Olmert, the Israeli prime minister, at last month's summit with Mahmoud Abbas, the Palestinian president.
    A military spokesman said roadblocks were not being lifted altogether for the time being.
    "These measures mainly concern an easing of severe checks at various crossing points and not, at this stage, the removal of military barriers," the spokesman said.
    The Israeli leader promised "immediate and concrete steps" to improve humanitarian conditions for the Palestinians after his December 23 talks with Abbas - the two men's first meeting in six months.
    Amir Peretz, the defence minister, later told parliament's foreign affairs and defence committee that Israel would dismantle 59 of the 400 or so roadblocks in the West Bank in two phases - 24 at first, and the rest later.
    Palestinians travelling across the West Bank have pass through dozens of checkpoints erected by the Israeli army.

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera and agencies


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