April 15, 2011
ISM Activist Killed
Arrigoni’s death comes just over a week after a gunman shot dead Juliano Mer-Khamis, an Israeli actor who ran a theatre in the West Bank city of Jenin. It is not clear why Mer-Khamis was shot but his views about freedom of expression had generated some opposition in Jenin.
Arrigoni, known as Vik, lived in an apartment that he rented separately from his fellow volunteers for the International Solidarity Movement (ISM). The first anyone knew of his abduction was when video was posted on YouTube in which Arrigoni appeared blindfolded with a bruised face.
The accompanying Arabic text said: “The Italian hostage entered our land only to spread corruption.” It described Italy as “the infidel state”.
On the day he was abducted, Arrigoni had written three posts on his Guerilla Radio blog: a report on the deaths of four men in the south of Gaza in a collapsed tunnel and comments on Silvio Berlusconi, the Italian prime minister, and Hosni Mubarak, the former Egyptian president.
He was last seen at a Gaza City gym on Wednesday and from there he ordered food by telephone but never arrived at the restaurant to pick it up.
Nathan Stuckey, a volunteer from the United States, said Arrigoni spent most of his time working as a journalist but was also involved in promoting the rights of Gazan fishermen to fish freely without hindrance from the Israeli navy.
“At the moment, he was particularly focused on the launch of our new boat, which we will use to monitor the navy’s violations 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 cause,” Stuckey said.
Foreigners and outsiders are normally warmly welcomed in Palestinian communities, who regard them as allies against Israel. Previously the greatest risk for foreigners was seen to be from the Israeli army. Rachel Corrie from the US and Tom Hurndall from London were killed by Israeli forces in Gaza in 2003 and 2004 while volunteering for the ISM.
Here’s a video report.
My thoughts are with his family and all those who are affected by this.