The Palestinian prime minister has condemned the kidnapping of two Western journalists and is calling for their release.

Ismail Haniyeh, of the militant Islamic group Hamas, said Thursday, that the Palestinian struggle has always been aimed at Israel's occupation, not at the United States.

On Wednesday, a group calling itself the Holy Jihad Brigades said it is holding the two journalists. It demanded that the U.S. release Muslim prisoners it is holding by Saturday .

Mr. Haniyeh spoke after meeting Thursday with Anita McNaught, the wife of New Zealander Olaf Wiig. He is one of the hostages.

McNaught issued a new appeal for the release of her husband and of American Steve Centanni. They are journalists for the American network Fox News.

In other news, Israeli forces arrested a Hamas leader and killed his brother during a raid on a Gaza border town Thursday.

The Israeli army says it arrested the wanted man, Younis Abu Daqqa after a brief gunbattle with militants near Khan Yunis in the southern Gaza Strip.

Further south, in Rafah, Palestinian militants blew a hole in the border fence between the Gaza Strip and Egypt so Palestinians could leave Gaza. But security officials say Egyptian police stopped Palestinians from entering Egypt through the hole.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP, AP and Reuters.