Palestinians remember killed Italian activist in Gaza

Gaza Strip – Hundreds of Palestinians gathered on Saturday to commemorate the death of Vittorio Arrigoni, the iconic Italian activist who was killed five years ago in the besieged Gaza Strip. 

Adel Abdelrahman, a musician in the Egyptian-Palestinian band Dawaween, said more than 500 people attended the event to show appreciation for Arrigoni’s Palestine solidarity work. They commemorated Arrigoni’s life with a documentary film on his life, sang songs in his memory, staged dance performances and art activities.

“We are Muslims, but we are against terrorism and violence,” Abdelrahman told Al Jazeera. “We love peace and we are against killing innocent people.” 

Arrigoni first came to Gaza on an activist-organised flotilla in 2008. He was a member of the International Solidarity Movement and participated in protests to support Palestinian farmers and fishermen who had been confronted frequently by Israeli forces. 

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Arrigoni was killed on April 15, 2011, after a small group of Palestinian gunmen kidnapped him a day earlier and demanded that the Hamas government in Gaza release one of their members.

In a video released after the kidnapping, they accused him of “spreading corruption” among Muslims and gave the Hamas government 30 hours to meet their demands. 

Before their deadline was reached, however, the men killed Arrigoni in an empty apartment in northern Gaza. 

“It is a very important day for all of us, particularly Italians and Palestinians,” Meri Calvelli, director of the Gaza-based Italian Centre for Cultural Exchange, told Al Jazeera. “There are a lot of people who still remember what happened to Vittorio. Italy is very proud of [him].” 

Khalil Shaheen of the Palestinian Centre for Human Rights said organisers want to keep Arrigoni’s memory alive out of respect for his solidarity.

“Our message since the day the activist Vittorio Arrigoni was killed is clear: We are against the terrorist group who killed him and they don’t represent Palestinians or our society,” he told Al Jazeera. “He was part of our struggle for justice and peace.” 

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