Vittorio Arrigoni

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Vittorio Arrigoni
Born(1975-02-04)4 February 1975
DisappearedApril 14, 2011 (aged 36)
Died15 April 2011(2011-04-15) (aged 36)
Cause of deathMurdered by strangling by Jahafil Al-Tawhid Wal-Jihad fi Filastin
Nationality Italian
Occupation International Solidarity Movement activist, journalist, blogger

Vittorio Arrigoni (Italian pronunciation:  [vitˌtɔːrjo arriˈɡoːni] ; 4 February 1975 – 15 April 2011) was an Italian reporter, writer, pacifist and activist. [1] [2] Arrigoni worked with the pro-Palestinian International Solidarity Movement (ISM) in the Gaza Strip, from 2008 until his death. Arrigoni maintained a website, Guerrilla Radio, and published a book of his experiences in Gaza during the 2008–09 Gaza War between Hamas and Israel. Arrigoni was the first foreigner kidnapped in Gaza since BBC journalist Alan Johnston's abduction in 2007. [3] He was subsequently killed. His murder was condemned by various Palestinian groups.

Writer person who uses written words to communicate ideas and to produce works of literature

A writer is a person who uses written words in various styles and techniques to communicate their ideas. Writers produce various forms of literary art and creative writing such as novels, short stories, poetry, plays, screenplays, and essays as well as various reports and news articles that may be of interest to the public. Writers' texts are published across a range of media. Skilled writers who are able to use language to express ideas well, often contribute significantly to the cultural content of a society.

Pacifism opposition to war and violence

Pacifism is opposition to war, militarism, or violence. The word pacifism was coined by the French peace campaigner Émile Arnaud (1864–1921) and adopted by other peace activists at the tenth Universal Peace Congress in Glasgow in 1901. A related term is ahimsa, which is a core philosophy in Hinduism, Buddhism, and Jainism. While modern connotations are recent, having been explicated since the 19th century, ancient references abound.

Activism efforts to promote, impede, or direct social, political, religious, economic, or environmental change, or stasis

Activism consists of efforts to promote, impede, direct, or intervene in social, political, economic, or environmental reform with the desire to make changes in society. Forms of activism range from mandate building in the community, petitioning elected officials, running or contributing to a political campaign, preferential patronage of businesses, and demonstrative forms of activism like rallies, street marches, strikes, sit-ins, or hunger strikes.



Arrigoni was born in the town of Besana in Brianza, near Monza, on 4 February 1975. [4] He claimed that it was in his blood to fight for freedom as his grandfathers fought against the former fascist regime in Italy. He had the Arabic word for resistance (muqawama) tattooed on his right arm. Once he passed his maturità exams in Italy, he left his hometown of Bulciago, a small village near lake Como, [5] and began working as a volunteer around the world (East Europe, South America, Africa and Middle East). In 2002, he visited Jerusalem which according to his mother was the "moment he understood his work would be concentrated there." His mother, Egidia Beretta, is the mayor of Bulciago. [2]

Besana in Brianza Comune in Lombardy, Italy

Besana in Brianza is a town and comune in the province of Monza and Brianza, Lombardy, northern Italy. It received the honorary title of city with a presidential decree of 16 February 1971.

Monza Comune in Lombardy, Italy

Monza is a city and comune on the River Lambro, a tributary of the Po in the Lombardy region of Italy, about 15 kilometres north-northeast of Milan. It is the capital of the Province of Monza and Brianza. Monza is best known for its Grand Prix motor racing circuit, the Autodromo Nazionale Monza, which hosts the Formula One Italian Grand Prix with a massive Italian support tifosi for the Ferrari team.

Arabic Central Semitic language

Arabic is usually classified as a Central Semitic language, and linguists widely agree that the language first emerged in the 1st to 4th centuries CE.. It is now the lingua franca of the Arab world. It is named after the Arabs, a term initially used to describe peoples living in the area bounded by Mesopotamia in the east and the Anti-Lebanon mountains in the west, in northwestern Arabia, and in the Sinai Peninsula. Arabic is classified as a macrolanguage comprising 30 modern varieties, including its standard form, Modern Standard Arabic, which is derived from Classical Arabic.

Political activism

External image
Searchtool.svg "Vittorio Arrigoni...a pro-Palestinian activist from Italy, received a passport from Ismail Haniya, head of Hamas's government in Gaza, in 2008."The New York Times [6]

Arrigoni was credited as one of the many activists who revived the International Solidarity Movement (ISM), a pro-Palestinian group that works in the Palestinian territories. In August 2008, he participated in the Free Gaza mission that aimed to break the Israeli blockade of the Gaza Strip, in place since June 2007 when Hamas took power in the territory. He was on the first boat that arrived in the Port of Gaza, [4] describing that moment as "one of the happiest and most emotional" of his lifetime." [7] While volunteering to act as a human shield for a Palestinian fisherman off Gaza's coast in September 2008, Arrigoni was injured by flying glass after the Israeli Navy used a water cannon to deter the vessel. [2] [4] In November, he was arrested by Israeli authorities after again acting as a human shield for fishermen off Gaza's coast. [4]

The International Solidarity Movement (ISM) is a "Palestinian-led movement" focused on assisting the Palestinian cause in the Israeli–Palestinian conflict. ISM is dedicated to the use of nonviolent protests and methods only. The organization calls on civilians from around the world to participate in acts of nonviolent protests against the Israeli military in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip.

Palestinian territories The territories captured and occupied by Israel in 1967 that were part of the British Mandate for Palestine

Palestinian territories has been used for many years to describe the territories occupied by Israel since 1967, namely the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. More recently, the official United Nations terminology has been used, occupied Palestinian territory increasingly replacing other terms since 1999. The European Union also has adopted this usage The International Court of Justice refers to the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, as "the Occupied Palestinian Territory" and this term is used as the legal definition by the International Court of Justice in the ruling in July 2004. The term occupied Palestinian territories is also still in common use.

Hamas Palestinian Sunni-Islamist fundamentalist organization

Hamas is a Palestinian Sunni-Islamist fundamentalist organization. It has a social service wing, Dawah, and a military wing, the Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades. It has been the de facto governing authority of the Gaza Strip since its takeover of that area in 2007. During this period it fought several wars with Israel. It is regarded, either in whole or in part, as a terrorist organization by several countries and international organizations, most notably by Israel, the United States and the European Union. Russia, China, and Turkey are among countries who do not regard it so.

He returned to Gaza prior to the Israeli military offensive Operation Cast Lead, which lasted from December 2008 to January 2009. Arrigoni was one of the few foreign journalists in Gaza during the war; [4] he worked with Radio Popolare [8] and as reporter for the Italian newspaper Il manifesto . He later published a book, Restiamo umani (en: Gaza, Stay Human), a collection of his reportage from Gaza. It is translated into English, Spanish, German, and French with a preface by Israeli historian Ilan Pappé. [9]

<i>Il manifesto</i> Italian newspaper

il manifesto is an Italian language daily newspaper published in Rome, Italy. While it calls itself communist, it is not connected to any political party.

Ilan Pappé Israeli historian and activist

Ilan Pappé is an expatriate Israeli historian and socialist activist. He is a professor with the College of Social Sciences and International Studies at the University of Exeter in the United Kingdom, director of the university's European Centre for Palestine Studies, and co-director of the Exeter Centre for Ethno-Political Studies.

Political views

"Zionism is an abominable, racist and colonial movement. Like all colonial and apartheid systems, it's in the interest of all that it be swept away. My hope is to see it replaced, without any bloodshed, with a democratic, secular and lay state – for example on the borders of historic Palestine – and where Palestinians and Israelis could live under equal rights of citizenship without ethnic and religious discrimination. It's a wish that I hope will soon become a reality."

— Vittorio Arrigoni, 2010 [10]

Arrigoni was described as having a "fervent commitment to the Palestinian cause." Arrigoni described four Palestinians who died in a tunnel under the Gaza-Egypt border as "martyrs". [2] One of his last posts on Guerrilla Radio, which he wrote hours before he was kidnapped and killed, praised Palestinian efforts to smuggle goods into Gaza via underground tunnels as an "invisible battle for survival." [4]

Arrigoni criticised Muslim extremists for trying to impose a hardline version of Islam in Gaza. [11] In an interview with the newspaper PeaceReporter, he said: "Personally, as an activist for human rights, I don't like Hamas at all. I have something to say to them too: they have deeply limited human rights since they have won the elections." [12]

In his website, Guerrilla Radio, and Facebook page, Arrigoni described the government of Israel as one of the worst apartheid regimes in the world. [4] He said the Israeli blockade on Gaza was criminal and villainous. [2]

Kidnapping and death

Arrigoni was kidnapped on 14 April 2011. In a video posted on YouTube in which they identified themselves as belonging to a previously unknown group, "The Brigade of the Gallant Companion of the Prophet Mohammed bin Muslima," [13] Arrigoni was blindfolded with blood seen around his right eye. [2] [14] The captors demanded the release of their leader Walid al-Maqdasi, [7] imprisoned by the de facto government in Gaza a month earlier, as a ransom and threatened Arrigoni's killing if a 30-hour deadline was not met. The captors accused Arrigoni of "spreading corruption" and his home country Italy as an "infidel state." [15] [16]


For uncertain reasons, before the deadline expired, the captors killed Arrigoni in an empty apartment in the Mareh Amer area in northern Gaza. [17] [18] It is believed he was either hanged or strangled. [11] After being led to the house by a member of the suspected Salafi group, Hamas security forces stormed the building and found Arrigoni's body. [7] An autopsy revealed that Arrigoni had been strangled with a plastic cord, but journalists were not allowed to see the body and no independent confirmation of the cause of death was possible. [19] Tawhid and Jihad denied responsibility for the killing, but stated it was "a natural outcome of the policy of the government carried out against the Salafi." Iyad ash Shami, a leader of another Salafi group based in Gaza, denied involvement of Salafi militants and said the killing went against Islam. [13] Security forces in Gaza arrested four suspects in connection to the incident, and Gaza Prime Minister Ismail Haniya ordered an investigation by the Interior Ministry, and called Arrigoni's mother to send his condolences. [18]

Manhunt and trial

Hamas police initiated a manhunt for people involved in the murder. Hamas authorities sealed off parts of the Gaza Strip before the beginning of the operation, during which gunfire and at least one explosion were heard. [20]

Hamas security forces laid siege to a house where the suspects were staying, in the Nuseirat refugee camp, in central Gaza. The suspects refused to surrender and a gun battle ensued. Hamas policemen entered the home and killed Balal al-Omari and a Jordanian, Abbad a-Rahman al-Brizat (one of the two dead men may have committed suicide). A third suspect, Mahmoud al-Salfiti, was wounded and detained. Three of the suspects' associates were also captured. Hamas Interior Ministry spokesman Ihab al-Ghussein reported that five Hamas policemen were injured as well as a girl who was caught in the crossfire. [20] [21] [22]

The four Salafist extremists captured in the raid were charged over Arrigoni's abduction and murder in a Hamas military court. The trial was presided over by military judge Abu Omar Atallah. [23] They were found guilty in September 2012. Mahmoud al-Salfiti, 28, and Tamer al-Hasasna, 27, were sentenced to life imprisonment with hard labor: the court refrained from imposing the death penalty on them after Arrigoni's parents urged that they be spared. Khader Jram, 24, was sentenced to 10 years imprisonment and Amer Abu Ghouleh, 23, was given a prison term of one year for sheltering fugitives. Following an appeal, a military court reduced the sentences of Salfiti and al-Hasana from life to 15 years on 19 February 2013. "We asked in our appeal for the conviction for murder and abduction to be dropped to only abduction," their lawyer Mohammed Zaqut said. [24] [3] [25] [26] [27]

In June 2015, after being granted a furlough from prison, Mahmoud al-Salfiti managed to escape from Gaza to Iraq, where he joined ISIS. On November 28, 2015 he was reportedly killed fighting for ISIS in Anbar province. [28] [29]

Reactions to death

A cartoon of Arrigoni by Carlos Latuff made following his murder. Vittorio Arrigoni draw.jpg
A cartoon of Arrigoni by Carlos Latuff made following his murder.

Several hundred Gazans rallied in the Unknown Soldier's Square to mourn Arrigoni while about 100 Palestinians and internationals marched through Ramallah to a house of mourning in nearby al-Bireh in the West Bank. [30] In Bethlehem, a candlelight vigil was held outside the Church of the Nativity. [18] Egyptian authorities offered to allow Arrigoni's family to enter Gaza through the Rafah crossing and his body to be sent back to Italy via the crossing. [31]

Palestinian response

An official statement from Hamas described the killing as a "disgraceful act" by a "mentally deviated and outlawed group." [32] Gaza Prime Minister Ismail Haniya stated the killing "does not reflect the values, morals, or the religion of the Palestinian people. This is an unprecedented case that won't be repeated." [18] He also said Arrigoni would be designated a martyr and a street would be named after him. [31] Foreign minister of Hamas told he would get a state funeral. After this the body would be transferred to Egypt. [33] Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhoum condemned the killing as 'shameful'. [34]

Various condemnations of Arrigoni's killing were released by other Palestinian factions with Fatah decrying it as an "act of betrayal," the Popular Resistance Committees calling it "cowardly," Islamic Jihad calling it a "grotesque crime," and Mustafa Barghouti saying it was a "shocking criminal act." [30] [32] A spokesman for Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas condemned it as an "act of treason". [32] Salahif ul-Ninja, a leftist Palestinian faction, went as far as to describe it as a "national tragedy".

International response

The foreign ministry of Italy expressed "deep horror over the barbaric murder," calling it an "act of vile and senseless violence committed by extremists who are indifferent to the value of human life." [32] UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon pressed the Gaza government to bring to justice "the perpetrators of this appalling crime." [32]

Accusations against Israel

Although Arrigoni was killed by suspected members of the Palestinian Salafist group Jahafil Al-Tawhid Wal-Jihad fi Filastin (Al-Snajib), some blamed Israel for the murder. In spite of the fact that Hamas identified the perpetrators with a Palestinian group affiliated with Al Qaeda, [21] Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhoum said he suspected Israel might be responsible since the death appeared to be timed to deter foreign activists from joining a flotilla due to sail to Gaza in May to break Israel's naval blockade of the area. [34]

Mahmoud al-Zahar, a member of the Hamas leadership, indirectly accused Israel of engineering the killing of Arrigoni in an attempt to scare off international activists from coming to Gaza. [35] He said that "such an awful crime cannot take place without arrangements between all the parties concerned to keep the blockade imposed on Gaza". [36] Al-Zahar offered no evidence to support his accusation. [35]

Since these accusations have not been based on any facts they have been criticised by the German journalist Hendryk Broder as baseless conspiracy theories.

Criticism and praise

A Jerusalem Post article published shortly after Arrigoni's death cited criticism of Arrigoni by Steven Plaut, associate professor of business administration at the University of Haifa, by Fiamma Nirenstein, a Jewish member of the Italian Chamber of Deputies who was deputy chair of its Foreign Affairs Committee and chair of its Committee for Investigating Antisemitism, and by Noah Pollak, executive director of the Emergency Committee for Israel, accusing Arrigoni of being a supporter of violence instead of a peace activist. [37]

According to The Guardian's correspondent in Italy, Arrigoni was "first and foremost a pacifist." [2] Khaleel Shaheen of the Palestinian Centre for Human Rights in Gaza, a friend of Arrigoni, described him as a "hero of Palestine". [38] Max Ajl, another friend of Arrigoni and a fellow ISM activist, eulogized Arrigoni as "a courageous and dedicated opponent of the Israeli occupation and advocate of resistance to oppression in the Middle East and around the world." [39]

See also

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  2. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 Hooper, John. Vittorio Arrigoni: pacifist supporter of the Palestinian cause. The Guardian 15 April 2011.
  3. 1 2 "Gaza Vittorio Arrigoni murder: Four Palestinians jailed". BBC. 17 September 2012. Retrieved 24 October 2012.
  4. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 Kalman, Matthew.Idealistic blogger 'was more Palestinian than the criminals who killed him'. The Independent . 16 April 2011.
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  8. Radio Popolare, announcements archive
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  12. Gaza, eliminate il pacifista Arrigoni (Gaza, eliminate the pacifist Arrigoni), Peacereporter , 14 January 2009.
  13. 1 2 Salafi leader: Islam prohibits murder. Ma'an News Agency . 15 April 2011.
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  19. Fares Akram and Isabel Kershner. Gaza Killing of Italian Activist Deals a Blow to Hamas. New York Times . 15 April 2011.
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  21. 1 2 Associated Press.Gaza police close in on suspects in Vittorio Arrigoni murder. The Guardian . 19 April 2011.
  22. Issacharoff, Avi. Hamas kills 2 suspects during manhunt for murderers of Italian activist in Gaza. Haaretz . 20 April 2011.
  23. "Trial Over Murder of pro-Palestinian Activist Begins in Gaza". 9 September 2011 via Haaretz.
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  25. Associated Press,'Hamas court convicts 4 in Italian activist death,' at Ynet, 17 September 2012.
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  27. 'Gaza court cuts sentence in Italian murder case' Press Trust of India. Published: 19 February 2013. Accessed: 20 February 2013.
  28. Diaa Hadid, Majd Al Waheidi, 'ISIS Allies Target Hamas and Energize Gaza Extremists,' New York Times 30 June 2015.
  29. 'Gazan who murdered an Italian peace activist dies fighting for IS', at The Times of Israel, 28 November 2015.
  30. 1 2 Candlelight vigil held for Italian activist. Al-Jazeera . 16 April 2011.
  31. 1 2 Egypt offers to help slain activist's family enter Gaza. Ma'an News Agency . 16 April 2011.
  32. 1 2 3 4 5 Abbas: Murder of Italian activist is treason. Ma'an News Agency . 16 April 2011.
  33. la Repubblica 17 April 2011
  34. 1 2 Kalman, Matthew. Activist's murder shakes Hamas's grip on Gaza. The Independent . 16 April 2011.
  35. 1 2 Aldabba, Ahmed. "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 18 April 2011. Retrieved 30 April 2011.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link) , Los Angeles Times . 16 April 2011.
  36. Associated Press and Haaretz Service. Hamas official hints Israel killed Italian activist to intimidate future Gaza flotilla members. Haaretz . 15 April 2011.
  37. Weinthal, Benjamin. "Italian politician: Vittorio Arrigoni was ‘enemy of Jews’." The Jerusalem Post . 26 April 2003. Retrieved on 11 August 2011.
  38. Quinton, Pennie, Vale Vittorio Arrigoni, 'hero of Palestine'. The Guardian . 16 April 2011.
  39. Ajl, Max. "in memoriam: Vik Arrigoni" . Retrieved 19 June 2011.

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