Sat, Dec 31, 2005 at 8:26:27 am
Kate Burton, 24, who was freed with her visiting parents late on Friday night, “remains committed and passionate about working alongside the Palestinians”, said the statement issued via the Foreign Office in London.
Britain breathed a collective sigh of relief after Burton and her father Hugh, 73, and 55-year-old mother Helen, known as Win, were freed just ahead of the New Year.
They had been abducted at gunpoint close to the Rafah border crossing into Egypt from the southern Gaza Strip on Wednesday, with a previously unknown group calling itself the Mujahadeen Bayt Al-Maqdes (Jerusalem) Brigades later claiming responsibility.
“We are in good health and have been treated extremely well through the ordeal,” the statement from Burton and her parents said Saturday. “We are glad that these last few days are over and we would like to express our gratitude to the Palestinian Authority, the British government and all groups and individuals in Gaza and worldwide who have been supporting us and working around the clock to secure our release.”
It added: “Kate Burton plans to stay in the region and continue working with the Palestinian people,” saying she wanted to help “alleviate the difficult conditions being suffered by the Palestinians in the occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip.”
Earlier Saturday, a colleague of Burton’s at the Al-Mezan Palestinian rights group said the work done by the Briton was vital. “Kate’s role is really very important,” Ghada Snunu told BBC radio. “She is responsible for contacting donors, writing reports to them, fund-raising, proposal-writing and editing English documents,” Snunu said.
Burton told the BBC earlier that the family had been moved three times by their captors, who remained masked throughout. Her parents were “tired”, Burton said, adding that she was sad they had endured such a “desperate experience” while visiting her in Gaza. ...
Terry Waite, the Anglican Church envoy held hostage in the Lebanon for more than four and half years from 1987 to 1991, said the Burtons’ kidnappers were “victims” of the deteriorating situation in Gaza.
“I see these series of kidnappings as almost being cries of desperation from disenfranchised young men who really have become almost victims of a system that’s highly dysfunctional, and of course they are contributing to making it even more dysfunctional,” he said.