Kidnapped in Gaza

Kidnapped in Gaza

Kidnapped in Gaza is a fast-paced thriller set in Israel and Gaza.  The hero is Richard Ireton, the Jerusalem bureau chief for Epoch Magazine, an American weekly newsmagazine.  He is eyewitness at the beginning of the story to a shooting incident in the West Bank involving Israeli soldiers and Palestinian hillside snipers.  On his return to Jerusalem he discovers that two Jerusalem-based British reporters are providing credibility in a British newspaper and on the BBC to Palestinian allegations of an Israeli cold-blooded murder of the captured Palestinian shooters.  The source for this story is an Abdul Husseini, senior representative of a Jerusalem-based Palestinian human rights organization.

Through his Israeli landlady, Ireton has an opportunity to interview in a private setting an Israeli soldier who was present at the shooting scene to which Ireton was an eyewitness.   The soldier happens to be the landlady’s nephew and the Hebrew-English interpreter at this meeting is the soldier’s sister, Rayna Shanach, a strikingly beautiful young Israeli woman who turns out to be a captain in Israeli military intelligence.

Rayna makes it possible for Ireton to scrutinize military intelligence archives that throw doubt on the atrocity story not only because the alleged eye-witness, a Palestinian school-teacher called al-Jaffar, has a background of previous arrests but because Abdul Husseini has clear connections with the Muslim Brotherhood, the core organization behind the Palestinian movement Hamas, which rules Gaza.

The school-teacher al-Jaffar, meanwhile, has gone to ground in Gaza out of fears that Israeli authorities might reach him and cause him to change his story.  Ireton, knowing he is taking a risk, decides to drive to Gaza and see if he can meet with al-Jaffar through connections in Hamas.  When Ireton arrives at the Hamas Interior Ministry in order to obtain an interview with the school-teacher, he discovers an old friend from China, a researcher-spy called Yao whom Ireton met in a previous adventure in China, has also been invited to sit down with al-Jaffar.  Ireton/Yao through questioning make it clear they don’t believe al-Jaffar’s story.

Leaving the building after the interview, Ireton is kidnapped after unknown assailants block the car in which he is traveling.  He ends up in a makeshift basement cell of a private residence in Gaza.  His captors say they belong to a hitherto unknown organization, the Followers of the Caliph.  The group forces Ireton at gunpoint to make a video threatening that they will start murdering foreign diplomats living in Israel unless the countries they represent cut off diplomatic relations with Israel.   A deadline is given for this to start happening, failing which Ireton will be executed and the assassination of foreigners in Israel will begin.

Ireton’s whereabouts in captivity, however, are known to Israeli intelligence though a GPS chip that Rayna arranged to be installed in an ornate leather belt that Ireton bought during a dinner meeting with Rayna.  The Israeli government is deeply worried that the threat to foreign diplomats living in the country could seriously threaten the country’s international security.  It thus prioritizes a Special Forces rescue team to locate Ireton and get him out of Gaza.  The rescue is dramatic and fraught with risk.  But another, personal risk has, meanwhile, been confronting Ireton: His long-time Filipina girlfriend Trish is visiting the country as a tourist.  Ireton is torn between loyalty to her and fascination with Rayna.  After the rescue, however, Ireton apologizes to Rayna for flirting with her, is reunited with Trish and has a good laugh with Yao, who is now back in Jerusalem.

About the Author

David Aikman (kidnappedingaza.com) is an award-winning print and broadcast journalist, a best-selling author, and a foreign affairs commentator based in the Washington, D.C.-area. His wide-ranging professional achievements include a  23-year career at TIME Magazine with reporting spanning the globe of nearly all the major historical events of the time. Since leaving TIME, he has authored ten books. His latest,  ”mirage” The Mirage of Peace: Understanding the Never-Ending Conflict in the Middle East (Regal 2009), released in September 2009, is a comprehensive overview of the nations and societies of the strife-torn region and the historical roots of the intransigent conflicts that have defied attempts to bring a lasting peace.

What They Say About Kidnapped in Gaza

“International journalist Richard Ireton is back.  After escaping a coup attempt in China, he finds himself dodging bombs, bullets, and bad guys in the turbulent Middle East.  Ireton is brought to life vividly in this novel by former TIME Magazine Beijing and Jerusalem Bureau Chief David Aikman – an eyewitness to the Tianenmen Square massacre of 1989.  At a time when it’s critical for people to understand how an ethical journalist operates, Aikman delivers in this can’t-put-down page-turner.”
John DeDakis, CNN Senior Copy Editor – “The Situation Room with Wolf Blitzer” and author, “Fast Track” and “Bluff” (Mystery-suspense)

“Riveting. Packed-full of jaw-dropping action and spellbinding information. Award-winning author David Aikman, really knows the Middle East and takes you behind-the-scenes. A magnificent tour de force for readers of all backgrounds and ages.”
Donna Rosenthal, author of The Israelis. 

“From the first line of the book, David Aikman takes us on a suspense-filled journey through the frontlines of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. A journalist’s pursuit of truth unfolds in a riveting plot, with an insider’s perspective on the real people caught up in one of the world’s most compelling stories.”
Robert Berger, Jerusalem Correspondent, CBS Radio News  

“Armed with his great writing skills and his first-hand knowledge of how foreign correspondents cope in violence-prone Israel and the Palestine territories, David Aikman has woven a fascinating tale in Kidnapped in Gaza.  Spelled out slowly at first, the intriguing plot – centering on a single Israeli-Palestinian incident – picks up steam as the book’s hero foreign correspondent Richard Ireton seeks the “truth” in a region that never has less than two versions of any incident. Ireton reveals the main theme of the book when he says wisely: “Well, to be honest, you can‘t be absolutely sure of anything in this part of the world. “  The reader will find the hero’s search for the “truth” absorbing.”
Robert Slater, Reporter for the Time Magazine Jerusalem Bureau (1976-1996) and biographer of Israeli leaders Yitzhak Rabin, Golda Meir, and Moshe Dayan  

“Aikman draws on his experiences as a foreign correspondent in Jerusalem to create an absorbing tale of love, intrigue, faith and terror, played out against the beguiling backdrop of the Holy Land and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.  True to its setting, Kidnapped in Gaza is filled with shifting alliances, colorful characters and double crosses. It’s equal parts murder mystery and white-knuckle thriller, laid out in gripping detail by an acknowledged master of his craft.”
Erick Stakelbeck, Host, CBN’s Stakelbeck on Terror 

“Aikman knows the Arab-Israeli conflict and how to spin a yarn. The result is a page-turner that educates. How can one do better than that?”
Daniel Pipes, Director, Center for Middle East Studies 

“Few could be better positioned than David Aikman to write so sensitively, honestly and courageously about life in the Middle East… A riveting tale from a fascinating mind!”
Rev. Dr. Robert Stearns, Executive Director, Eagles’ Wings NY