Funeral service for Vittorio Arrigoni in Gaza City today, burial to be in Italy

The Hamas Ministry of Interior in the Gaza Strip — which has arrested four people accused of involvement in the brutal death of Italian activist Vittorio Arrigoni and which has published the photos of three more men who are wanted for the murder — has announced that the Rafah crossing from Gaza into Egypt will be open today for those wanting to travel … to perform the Umrah (or minor) pilgrimage in Mecca.

However, Vittorio Arrigoni’s body will be transported from the same Rafah crossing at 2pm today, after a funeral service at Shifa Hospital in Gaza City at 1pm. The body will then be flown from Egypt to Italy, where it will be buried in his family’s cemetary, according to reports on Twitter.

One Tweet, from @LilianeKhalil, adds this report: “Many of #Vittorio’s friends have arrived in #Gaza for the funeral, others expected to arrive in the morning. (Source: #Hamas)”…

Most of these friends will probably also arrive via Rafah (rather than via Israel’s Erez crossing)

There is considerable taunting today — by Twitter accounts clearly run by Israelis — of anyone Tweeting about Vittorio…

Here is a video now posted on Youtube, which has Vittorio’s favorite Palestinian song, Onadikum, as its soundtrack. It begins with doctors in Shifa Hospital preparing Vittorio’s death certificate…

And, here is a video made today before and during the funeral service in Gaza:

Untitled from Mohammed Al Majdalawi on Vimeo.

Tributes to Vittorio Arrigonio

Jeff Halper, the coordinator of the Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions (ICAHD) wrote a tribute to Vittorio Arrigoni, murdered in Gaza yesterday, and with whom Jeff apparently sailed to Gaza on the first Free Gaza expedition by sea from Cyprus in August 2008.

Jeff wrote that: “Less than two weeks after losing another friend and comrade, Juliano Mer-Khamis, I have to mourn and remember my fellow Free Gaza shipmate Vittorio (Vik) Arrigoni, who was brutally murdered last night by religious extremists in Gaza (and who actually resembled Juliano, physically, in his buoyant personality and in his insistence on “being there” when the oppressed needed him).

Vik was truly a person greater than life. He was so filled with energy, a mixture of joy, camaraderie and impatience with the confines of boats and prisons like Gaza, that he would suddenly lift you into the air, or wrestle with you – he was a big, strong, handsome guy, ebullient and smiling even in the most oppressive and dangerous situations – as if to tell you: Yaala! These Israel naval ships shooting at us and the Palestinian fisherman cannot prevail over our solidarity, outrage and the justice of our cause! (Vik was wounded in one of those confrontations).

He would come up behind you and say: The Occupation will fall just like this! (and he would wrestle you to the ground, laughing and playing with you as he did).

Vik, who like me received Palestinian citizenship and a passport when we broke the siege of Gaza and sailed into Gaza port in August, 2008, was a peace-maker exemplar.

Continue reading Tributes to Vittorio Arrigonio

Vittorio Arrigoni — human being — has been kidnapped, beaten, terrorized, then hanged in Gaza

Italian activist Vittorio Arrigoni, who worked for Palestinian freedom and rights, was kidnapped in Gaza sometime in the last 24 to 48 hours.

He was then terrorized and beaten, as could be seen from a videotape showing him blindfolded. The videotape, which had an Islamist song soundtrack and an Arabic-language commentary scrolling beside Vittorio’s image, showed a forearm reaching over and roughly grabbing Vittorio’s hair to pull his head up for better display to the camera. Red contusions and blood were visible above and below his right eye. His eyes were tightly covered with strips of black adhesive tape pressing tightly across his face and around his head.

In the videotape, Vittorio was seen gulping, swallowing hard.

The videotape — which was ugly and painful to watch — was posted Thursday on Youtube, here, but by Friday noontime the account “associated with this video” had been “terminated”… However, a link from the Jerusalem Post is still active, to the Youtube website showing films posted by someone using the name Redemption1948 — the embed information is disabled, but the page this videotape is posted on is here.

Al-Arabiya’s English-language website reported that “The accompanying Arabic text said: ‘The Italian hostage entered our land only to spread corruption’. It described Italy as ‘the infidel state’.” This report is posted here.

This morning, we learn from stories published by the wire services, that Vittorio was killed — before, Hamas said, a raid by Hamas forces — “in an ugly manner”.

One report said, apparently in an effort to be delicate, that Vittorio had been “strangled”.

Later reports say, more precisely, that his body was found hanging in an otherwise empty house.

Continue reading Vittorio Arrigoni — human being — has been kidnapped, beaten, terrorized, then hanged in Gaza