Two foreign journalists who have been set free after nearly two weeks of captivity in Gaza have spoken about their ordeal. Sixty-year old Steve Centanni and New Zealand-born Olaf Wiig who is 36 were captured on August 14 by a previously unknown group calling itself the Holy Jihad Brigades.
They were set free on Sunday morning just hours after a video was released in which they were seen reading statements announcing that they had converted to Islam. Centanni later told reporters at a news conference that they had been forced to do so at gunpoint.
The two men, who set the sad record of being the longest held foreign hostages in Gaza, were keen to speak to journalists after their release: “I just hope this never scares a single journalist away from coming to Gaza to cover this story because the Palestinian people are a very beautiful, kind-hearted and caring people that the world need to know more about, and so do not be discouraged,” said Centanni.
“You guys need us on the streets and you need people to be aware of your stories,” Wiig said, “I can just add my thanks to everybody who worked tirelessly to get us out and especially (my wife) Anita.” Palestinian leaders said the kidnappers had no link to al Qaeda or any known Palestinian groups. Hamas and other militant groups condemned the abduction.