GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip -- Rather than fight them, Palestinian officials have been negotiating deals with those behind a wave of kidnappings, and the lenience is worsening the chaos left behind after Israel's withdrawal from the Gaza Strip, according to a senior Palestinian security official.
Citing the example set by Iraqi insurgents, gunmen are increasingly resorting to kidnappings to get jobs, break relatives out of jail or settle personal scores. Gaza and the West Bank suffered 31 abductions in August and 44 in September, according to official statistics.
The security official requested anonymity, saying he was afraid to go public in the dangerously charged atmosphere in Gaza. He complained that the readiness to negotiate with kidnappers was encouraging crime. In a further twist, many of those involved in kidnappings have ties to the Al Aqsa Martyrs' Brigades, a violent group linked to Abbas' ruling Fatah movement.
Other hostage-takers even serve in the security forces.