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On this day: Kate Burton’s Gaza kidnap ordeal

December 31 2005: Kidnapped by the Mujahadeen Brigades

    On December 28 former LSE student Kate Burton and her parents Hugh and Win were kidnapped in the Gaza Strip by members of the militant group Mujahadeen Brigades armed with automatic rifles. Three days later they were free.

    The 24-year-old pro-Palestinian activist from Berkshire, employed by the Palestinian Al Mezan Centre for Human Rights, was giving her parents a tour of Rafah, close to the Egyptian border, when they were taken. The kidnap took place just four months after Israel disengaged from Gaza.

    No ransom was paid although the militants had a list of demands for Britain to put pressure on Israel and threatened further kidnaps.

    They released a video before letting the group go which showed a gunman with his face concealed next to Ms Burton. Later she told reporters that she had been treated well by her captors but that she could not forgive them.

    It transpired after the ordeal that the British consulate had advised her not to take her parents to Gaza.

    She told the Guardian: "I was aware that the chances of kidnapping had increased but you always feel that you are invincible.

    “I thought I was working with Palestinians and had enough contacts to be safe so.”

    What the JC said:The kidnapping and welcome release of Kate Burton, the young British woman working in the Gaza Strip, not surprisingly captured the headlines over the holiday period. But at the same time as Ms Burton was being held by a gang of gunmen, other Palestinian terrorists were busy firing Kassam rockets into Israel, aiming for the city of Ashkelon. When Israel withdrew from Gaza last summer, it did so on the understanding that the Palestinian Authority would take full responsibility for that area. Prime Minister Ariel Sharon did not decide to uproot Israeli settlers in order to put Ashkelon in reach of terrorist rockets.

    See more from the JC archives here

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