- On April 15, International Solidarity Movement (ISM)
members grieved for one of their own, their press release headlining, "Palestinians
in Gaza and the West Bank unite in mourning of slain activist Vittorio
- "People will gather in Al Manara square in Ramallah
and at Al Jundi al Majhull, (Gaza's) unknown soldier park," honoring
the death of their comrade, slain and abandoned in a house north of Gaza.
More on his death below.
- Other events took place throughout Palestine, including
protests following Friday's prayers across from the UN's Gaza headquarters.
Bil'in and Al Masara also dedicated their weekly demonstrations to Vittorio,
Vic to his friends.
- On Saturday, the Popular Committee in Nablus held a commemoration
with political parties in Nablus center, celebrating his work and condemning
- ISM explained his activism for Palestinian liberation
and justice for almost 10 years, including the past two and a half years
in Gaza with ISM:
- -- monitoring Israeli human rights violations;
- -- supporting Palestinian resistance against occupation,
and siege; and
- -- daily violations of international law and democratic
- Moreover, as a journalist, he wrote for the Italian newspaper
IL Manifesto and Peacereporter, providing information about Gaza to a worldwide
audience. The next Freedom Flotilla was renamed "Stay Human,"
honoring him and his book titled, "Gaza Stay Human."
- Weeks earlier, he wrote comments like:
- "The mighty flow of blood and hope from Tunisia,
Egypt, Yemen, Bahrain, Algeria and Libya also washed over young Palestinian
minds in Gaza. What started as a stream has become a torrent and will soon
spill its banks....Palestinians are working hard to mobilize thousands
of people (on March 15) to the squares of Ramallah and Gaza on the day
(now) named "The Day of Reconciliation" rather than "The
Day of Anger."
- He also participated in the Free Gaza Movement's August
2008 siege-breaking flotilla. Established that month, it visited Gaza nine
times by sea "to break Israel's illegal stranglehold on 1.5 million
Palestinian civilians," suffocating under siege.
- However, it never was clear sailing. In 2008, Free Gaza
succeeded five times, but were "violently intercepted on the(ir) past
four voyages," including the lethal May 31 massacre, killing nine
or more activists and injuring many more. One of several earlier articles
explained, accessed through the following link:
- Free Gaza and its coalition partners are the only organizations
"sen(ding) boats directly to Gaza in defiance of Israel's criminal"
blockade. They "sail as an expression of citizen nonviolent, direct
action, confronting" Israeli lawlessness, together with:
- -- the European Campaign to End the Siege on Gaza;
- -- IHH - the Turkish Foundation for Human Rights;
- -- Freedoms and Humanitarian Relief;
- -- the International Committee to End the Siege on Gaza;
- -- Ship to Gaza Sweden; and
- -- Ship to Gaza Greece.
- Ahead, missions from growing numbers of countries plan
to deliver vitally needed aid, sending a message that Israeli lawlessness
- During Cast Lead, Arrigoni helped medics and reported
on IDF attacks to a worldwide audience. As a result, Israeli forces arrested
him many times for his writing, activism, and support for Palestinian liberation
and justice. His last arrest and deportation came after he reported on
Israel's lawless confiscation of Gazan fishing vessels in Palestinian waters,
one of many other times they've done it.
- On April 15, a Palestinian Centre for Human Rights (PCHR)
press release headlined, "With Great Shock and Sorrow, PCHR Condemns
the Murder of Italian Activist, Vittorio Arrigoni," saying:
- That day his "body was found in an abandoned house
in the north of the Gaza Strip, following his murder at the hands of kidnappers."
- According to its own investigation, extremists called
"Group of the Companion Mohammed Bin Maslamah" announced his
kidnapping on April 14, demanding the release of its detained members affiliated
with the so-called "Salafist Jihadist Group." If authorities
didn't release them within 30 hours, they threatened to kill him, a threat
fulfilled as broadcast on You Tube.
- His face showed clear signs of beating, as well as handcuffs
and strangulation marks on his neck. A Gaza Ministry of Interior press
release condemned the crime, announcing the arrest of two of the group's
members, as well as efforts to find the others.
- On April 15, London Guardian writer Conal Urquhart headlined,
"Palestinians rally to mourn kidnapped Italian activist murdered by
- He was abducted to force authorities to release Sheikh
Abu Walid-al-Maqdas. The New York Times named Hisham Saidani as their imprisoned
Tawhid and Jihad (TJ) leader, saying "details of the crime remain
muddled," especially with TJ denying responsibility.
- Luigi Ripamonti, deputy mayor of his hometown of Bulciago,
told Italy's Sky 24 Television:
- "Today we los(t) an Italian citizen, a citizen of
Bulciago, and also a Palestinian citizen, because he married a Palestinian."
- Egidia Beretta, Bulciago's mayor and Arrigoni's mother
said he first arrived in The Territories in 2002, where "(h)e was
taken with Palestine and Palestine took to him."
- At first Hamas was reluctant to accuse anyone of the
crime, suggesting possible Israeli involvement, spokesman Mahmoud Zahar
- "We cannot deny the relation between this incident
and an international campaign by the Zionist enemy to restrict the arrival
of pro-Palestinian activists. This crime is not in line with our norms
as Muslims and Palestinians."
- He added that "(s)uch an awful crime cannot take
place without arrangements between all the parties concerned to keep the
- In Rome, the Italian Foreign Ministry said the killing
was a "barbaric murder and vile and irrational gesture of violence
on the part of extremists indifferent to the value of a human life."
- Haaretz said a group calling itself Monotheism and Holy
War released a video showing Arrigoni blindfolded with cuts on his face.
It demanded authorities free its leaders and two others or they'd kill
him. Despite the video, the group denied responsibility, raising suspicions
of its origin.
- The Guardian said a fellow US activist, Nathan Stuckey,
said he spent most of his time as a journalist, but was involved in promoting
the rights of Gaza fishermen to work freely in their own waters, adding:
- "At the moment, he was particularly focused on the
launch of our new boat, which we will use to monitor (Israel's navy) violation
of the rights of the fishermen. He often said that he now felt more at
home in Gaza than in Italy and he was strongly committed to the Palestinian
- Arrigoni's death comes days after a gunman killed Juliano
Mer-Khamis, an Israeli actor who ran a Jenin refugee camp theater. He also
supported Palestinian liberation and justice. His mother, Arna Mer, was
a Jewish activist for Palestinian rights. His father, Saliba Khamis, was
born and raised in Nazareth.
- In 2006, he opened the Jenin Freedom Theater with Zakariya
Zubeidi, former local Al-Aqsa Martyr Brigades military leader. He was threatened
numerous times, and his theater was torched twice previously. Jenin's Governor
Qadura Moussa called him a great Palestinian supporter.
- Haaretz's senior editor and theater critic called him
a "great actor and extraordinary human being whose life-story is part
of the tragic reality of this country," who in death, became "another
tragic victim of life in the Middle East."
- Shot dead on April 4, he's remembered as one of the best
along with Arrigoni and Rachael Corrie, a 23-year old American peace activist,
murdered in Gaza on March 16, 2003 by an Israeli bulldozer operator when
she tried to stop it from demolishing a Rafah refugee camp home.
- According to witnesses, she climbed up on it, spoke to
the driver, climbed down, knelt 10 - 20 meters in front in clear view,
blocking its path with her body. With activists there screaming for it
to stop, the soldier-operator crushed her to death deliberately by running
her over twice to be sure.
- For many years, Israel killed numerous other peace activists,
including Tom Hurndall, a 21-year old photojournalist shot in the head
by an Israeli sniper in April 2003, trying to rescue Palestinian children
under fire. He clung to life in a vegetative state until succumbing on
January 13, 2004, another victim of Israeli barbarity and contempt for
human life, a testimony to an out-of-control rogue state.
- Like Arrigoni, Corrie and Hurndell were also ISM members,
heroic peace activists for Palestinian liberation and justice.
- Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago and can be reached at
email@example.com. Also visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com
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