Moral Low Ground


Pro-Palestinian Italian Activist Kidnapped & Killed by Fringe Islamic Radicals


Vittorio Arrigoni gave his life for Palestine.

The 36-year-old Italian, who spent much of the last three years in Gaza, was a member of the pro-Palestinian International Solidarity Movement (ISM). He’s the third ISM activist to be killed in Gaza: Rachel Corrie, a young American woman, was run over by an Israeli military bulldozer in 2003 and British activist Tom Hurndall was shot dead by an Israeli soldier nine months later. But Arrigoni is the first ISM activist to be killed by the people he was trying to help.

Arrigoni was kidnapped yesterday by members of the Brigade of the Gallant Companion of the Prophet Mohammed bin Muslima, a hard-line Salafist group. The group posted a YouTube video in which it claimed Arrigoni was kidnapped in a bid to secure comrades imprisoned by Hamas, the ruling party in Gaza. Among those the group wants released is jihad leader Sheikh Hisham al-Suedani. Arrigoni’s kidnappers threatened to execute the Italian if their demands were not met by 5:00 PM today.

“If you don’t respond quickly to our demands, within 30 hours from 11:00 AM on April 14, we will execute this prisoner,” the video said. It is not yet known why the group killed Arrigoni ahead of the deadline.

Arrigoni was found hanging in an abandoned house in northern Gaza.

ISM members are reeling from the loss of a man they called a great humanitarian. Huwaida Affar, a co-founder of ISM, told Agence France-Presse that she “thought that whoever has him is going to see his humanity and just let him go.”

Vittorio Arrigoni's life was all about helping others.

But his abductors didn’t see any humanity. They described Arrigoni as a “journalist who came to our country for nothing but to corrupt people– from Italy, the state of infidelity, whose armies are still in Muslim countries.”

Hamas spokesman Ihab al-Ghoussein slammed the murder, which he called a “heinous crime which has nothing do do with our values, our religion, our customs and traditions.” He vowed that “the other members of the group will be hunted down and the law will be applied.” Two suspected kidnappers are already in custody.

The Italian foreign ministry denounced “in the strongest manner the act of vile and senseless violence committed by extremists who are indifferent to the value of human life.” Rome also expressed “its deep horror over the barbaric murder and its most sincere condolences to the family.”

ISM is currently deciding whether or not its members should now leave Gaza.

Here Vittorio Arrigoni discusses his work with the International Solidarity Movement:

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