A common space for harmonic peacemakers
Vittorio has been active in the Palestine cause for almost 10 years. For the past two and a half years, he has been in Gaza with the International Solidarity Movement, monitoring human rights violations by Israel, supporting the Palestinian popular resistance against the Israeli occupation and disseminating information about the situation in Gaza to his home country of Italy. He was aboard the siege-breaking voyage in 2008 with the Free Gaza Movement and was incarcerated in Israeli prisons several times. He was in Gaza throughout Israel's brutal assault (Operation Cast Lead), assisting medics and reporting to the world what Israel was doing to the Palestinian people. He has been arrested numerous times by Israeli forces for his participation in Palestinian non-violent resistance in the West Bank and Gaza. His last arrest and deportation from the area was a result of the Israeli confiscation of Palestinian fishing vessels in Gazan territorial waters.
Vittorio frequently writes on the issue of Palestine for the Italian newspaper, IL Manifesto and Peacereporter. Additionally, he maintains a popular blog (http://guerrillaradio.iobloggo.com) and facebook page http://www.facebook.com/pages/Vittorio-Arrigoni/290463280451
Khalil Shaheen, a friend of Vittorio and Head of the Economic and Social Rights Department at the Palestinian Center for Human Rights said, "This is outside of our traditions. We are calling for the immediate release of my best friend. Vittorio Arrigoni is a hero of Palestine. He was available everywhere to support all the poor people, the victims. I'm calling on the local authorities here in Gaza, and all security departments, to do their best to guarantee his safety and immediate release."
Vittorio was granted honorary citizenship for his work on promoting the cause of the Palestinian people. Members of Gazan civil society are demanding his release; tomorrow at 4:00pm there will be a mass demonstration in Jundi Square.
For more information, please contact:
Inge Neefs, ISM Gaza, English, 00 972 597 738 436
Silivia Todescini ISM Gaza, Italian 00 972 595 447 660
Nathan Stuckey, ISM Gaza, English, 00 972 597 650 864
Huwaida Arraf, Free Gaza Movement, English & Arabic, 00 972 598 336 215
Adie Nisterooly (close friend of Vittorio's), ISM Gaza, English, 0041799407215
This is a man who lived his coinviction for freedom for Palestine.
My day didn't start well yesterday when I heard the news that Vittorio was killed. I woke up at 6am and had a few things to do for the cause. I logged on to my facebook page only to hear the news that Vittorio Arrigoni, a freedom fighter for Palestine was killed by my own people. I found out that he worked so hard for our cause and lived among the people of Gaza for the past 3 years including "operation cast lead". I was shocked, devastated, sad and felt extreme helplessness. Being a pedantic housekeeper and cook, I couldn't bring myself to clean the house or cook for my son and husband. I spent couple of hours searching the internet to find out who killed him and why? An extremist group - Salafis killed him because he was Italian and an "infidel". I am sorry I don't understand that explanation?
Who has the right to judge and kill someone because of who they are? How can we explain his death to his parents? What can we say to the Italian people who have been long time supporters of the Palestinian people? Killing him was a stab to every Palestinian and every freedom and justice loving person who believes in our just cause. They didn't only kill Vittorio. They killed us all.
He was asked once why he is leaving the comfort and easy life of Rome and living among the poorest and oppressed in the world? He said because "my grandfather and father fought fascism in Italy and now we have a free country. I want to fight the occupation to free the Palestinians."What a noble man. It's unfair that he gets killed by cowards and criminals who have delusional ideologies that they are fighting for our cause. The authorities in Gaza should bring them to justice and try them as criminals because that's what they are. Justice for Vittorio must be served not only for us but for his family.
He once said: "Let us remain human, even in the most difficult moments". Someone asked him 'How can you stay human at certain times?' And he answered: "Because, despite everything, there must always be humanity within us. We have to bring it to others." He used to walk the streets of Gaza singing and whistling the Palestinian freedom fighter song Unadikom أناديكم - the lyrics written decades ago is for him. This video and song is dedicated to him.
Despite their cruel and cold murder, in the face of senseless hate, we need to stay human and pledge to work for our cause ONLY through peaceful means no matter how cruel the occupation is. Our aim must stay noble. What use is it trying to create a country with people's blood (including Israelis) on our hands?
Vittorio's death must not be in vain. The Palestinian people and leadership should stand for our noble cause and denounce all methods of violence to achieve freedom. Freedom should only be attained through peace, dialogue and mutual respect. The cycle of violence must end. We are all someone's sons and daughters. Let us work together - Palestinians, Israelis and Internationals - for peace. Now we need to work harder. We just lost Juliano Mer Khamis a few weeks ago and now Vittorio Arrigoni. Let us pay tribute to them and pledge that we will walk in their peaceful footsteps to achieve freedom.
Vittorio Arrigoni was a fierce critic of Israel but it is Palestinians that killed him. The 36-year-old was a passionate defender of the rights of people in Gaza and Palestinian friends have opened a mourning tent in Gaza City.
There have been no kidnappings of this kind since Hamas came to power in 2007. The Islamist movement will see this as a challenge to its authority.
Two members of an al-Qaeda inspired Salafist group have been arrested. Salafists practise an ultra-conservative form of Islam and regard Hamas as too moderate.
Many will be watching to see whether Hamas responds with violence. In 2009, Hamas killed over 25 Salafists after one group challenged its leadership.
The movement is treading a fine line. It does not want to alienate conservative Islamists in Gaza but, at the same time, Hamas has had to become increasingly pragmatic, governing for a population living under much hardship.
An Italian pro-Palestinian activist has been found dead in the Hamas-governed Gaza Strip hours after being abducted.
Vittorio Arrigoni, 36, was seized on Thursday by a radical group that has been in conflict with Hamas and is seeking the release of its leader.
Police said he was found hanged in a Gaza City house after receiving a tip-off. Two people have been arrested.
Italy denounced the "barbaric murder", calling it an "act of vile and senseless violence".
Mr Arrigoni was the first foreigner kidnapped in Gaza since BBC journalist Alan Johnston was abducted in 2007.
Friends of the activist gathered outside the hospital where his body had been taken on Friday morning.
"He came from across the world, left his country and family and his entire life and came here to break the siege, and we kill him? Why?" asked one of his friends.
Italian diplomats have been in touch with Israel regarding the transfer of the body from the Gaza Strip, possibly on Sunday, an Israeli official has told the BBC.YouTube video
Vittorio Arrigoni was seized by Salafist radicals, an Islamist movement itself that considers Hamas as too moderate, BBC Gaza correspondent Jon Donnison says.
The Salafists had threatened to execute Mr Arrigoni by 1400 GMT on Friday unless several prisoners, including their leader, Sheikh Abu Walid al-Maqdasi, were released. Sheikh Maqdasi was arrested by Hamas police last month in Gaza City.
In a video posted on YouTube, Mr Arrigoni appeared to have been beaten and his eyes were covered with thick black tape.
A caption on the video read: "The Italian hostage entered our land only to spread corruption." The video called Italy "the infidel state".
It is not clear why Mr Arrigoni was killed before the given deadline, but the Hamas interior ministry said he had died soon after being abducted.
Ministry spokesman Ehab al-Ghussein said he was killed "in an awful way".
Mr Ghussein told reporters that the security forces had been led to the house in Gaza City by one of the men involved.
He described the killing as a "heinous crime which has nothing to do with our values, our religion, our customs and traditions", and vowed to hunt down and bring to justice others who were involved.
In Rome, the Italian foreign ministry expressed "its deep horror over the barbaric murder".
Mr Arrigoni was a member of the International Solidarity Movement (ISM) and had been in Gaza for several years.
Huwaida Arraf, a co-founder of the ISM, said he was very well-known in the territory and had a "dynamic, humanitarian personality".
"I even thought that whoever has him is going to see his humanity and just let him go, so when I heard what happened to him I was totally shocked," she told the AFP news agency.
Inge Neefs of ISM Gaza says that there are now four ISM foreign activists in the Gaza Strip.
Ms Neefs told the BBC that they intended to stay as most Palestinians do not support the extremists who kidnapped Mr Arrigoni and they should not be blamed for it.
Hamas had been credited with eliminating the threat of kidnapping in Gaza until his abduction.
Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit has been held in Gaza since June 2006. He was captured in a raid into Israel by Hamas and other militant groups.