Palestine: Kidnap Victim Sympathetic to Cause
- British worker seized with her parents in Gaza
Ms Burton, who according to unconfirmed reports comes from Scotland,
and is believed to have a master's degree in international law, has
worked for Al-Mezan, a Palestinian human rights organisation in
Gaza, for the past three to four months as the co-ordinator for
Militants join calls to free Britons
On Thursday night a masked leader of the al-Asqa Martyrs Brigade
called for the release of Kate Burton, 24 and her parents, claiming
the kidnapping "harms the resistance effort". Militant group Hamas
also called for the the Britons to be freed, while Palestinians took
to the street in their support. The family of the Burtons spoke of
their "deep concern" for them.
Palestinians attack kidnap of Briton devoted to their cause
Having lived in Gaza for the past three years and being an Arabic
speaker, she would have been acutely aware of the heightened
tensions and the Foreign Office warning that Britons should leave.
But she told friends that she often felt that Western organisations
were too eager to evacuate to a more comfortable billet, leaving
behind those they were supposed to be helping. "She was that rare
breed who cared for others more than herself," the friend added.
No demand from Britons' kidnappers
"They have not made any demand and they have not revealed their
identities," Ala Hosni told a news conference. Human rights worker
Kate Burton was seized along with her visiting parents in southern
Gaza on Wednesday.
Kidnap Briton to go on working for Palestinians
Conal Urquhart Jerusalem and Jamie Doward London
Sunday January 1, 2006
The British aid worker kidnapped with her parents in Gaza last week
has vowed to stay on to help the Palestinian people despite her
In a joint statement, Kate Burton and her mother and father said
they had been treated well by their captors. 'We are glad 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,' the
'We are in good health and have been treated extremely well through
the ordeal. Kate Burton plans to stay in the region and continue
working with the Palestinian people.
'Kate remains committed and passionate about working alongside the
Palestinians to improve their external image and alleviate the
difficult conditions being suffered by the Palestinians in the
occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip.'
The Foreign Office strongly denied last night that a deal was struck
with the kidnappers of the aid worker, who was released late on
Friday night after being held hostage for two and a half days in
Burton, 24, and her parents - Hugh, 73, and Helen, 55, known as Win -
were seized last Wednesday in the southern city of Rafah. Their
kidnappers, members of a previously unknown Palestinian group called
the Mujahideen Brigades, issued a statement claiming they had freed
the three after receiving assurances from Britain and the European
Union that they would work to end the Israeli 'no go' zone in
But British diplomats issued a rebuttal last night, claiming they
had given the kidnappers no such undertaking. 'We never give any
assurances or negotiate. That's our standard policy,' a Foreign
Office spokesman said.
News of the Burtons' release brought joy to their neighbours in
Newbury, Berkshire. One of them, Frances Berry, said she
was 'absolutely delighted', adding: 'They are really such lovely
people. Now 2005 can end on a good note.'
Last night a clearer picture of the chaos surrounding the release
started to emerge. On Friday evening the kidnappers agreed to free
them once the group had produced a video attacking Britain's role in
the Middle East and threatening further kidnappings if the
international community failed to put pressure on Israel to stop
bombing the north of Gaza.
In the video Kate Burton, 24, was shown looking tense but collected
as a masked man read a statement outlining the demands. The video
production was halted by a power cut, and the kidnappers had
difficulties editing the footage, setting back the release three
The kidnappers then insisted on delivering the Burtons to their Gaza
City hotel, but changed their mind when they saw large numbers of
media and police there.
Eventually a British official persuaded the kidnappers to meet him
in a side street, and the three were released. The official managed
to take hold of Kate Burton and her mother, but Hugh Burton panicked
when he saw a jeep pull up with armed men who, it transpired, were
plainclothes Palestinian police.
Fearing he was going to be kidnapped again, Burton sprinted towards
the hotel 100 yards away where he was intercepted, calmed and
bundled in a car.
The three were driven from Gaza to Jerusalem, where they had been
booked to spend the night in the luxurious American Colony hotel,
but instead they chose to stay with friends.
During the journey the Burtons gave some details of their captivity,
but British security officials have yet to carry out a full
Kate spent much of her time in ideological discussions with her
captors, and is believed to be reluctant to provide much information
on them for fear of becoming a target on her return to Gaza.
British sources said she was finding it hard to accept that she had
been a victim of a crime and deprived of her liberty.
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