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Apr-16-2011 05:01printcomments

Was Israel's Shin Bet Behind Vittorio Arrigoni's Brutal Murder?

Hamas condemned the murder, calling it, "a shameful act, contrary to the tradition of the Palestinian people."

Vittorio Arrigoni
R.I.P. Vik - Artwork by Carlos Latuff, friend of Salem-News in Rio de Janeiro. Visit: Latuff Gallery

(SALEM, Ore.) - I had a terrible feeling Salem-News.com Correspondent and Gaza Activist Ken O'Keefe was probably on target when be stated 'Israel' repeatedly in regard to Vittorio Arrigoni's kidnapping and murder.

Photo by our good friend, Vik Arrigoni's
good friend, Activist/Writer Ken O'Keefe.

It never made sense that a group of Palestinians would commit an act like this, that is unless they were among the handful of Gazans who out of pure desperation, work with Israel as informants. This generally occurs because they are either threatened or bribed.

The International Solidarity Movement (ISM) simply exists to help sustain human life. Supporters of Israel consider these humanists to be an enemy of the Zionist state.

There is a demonstrated track record that is undeniable, and the increasing launch of the next Gaza Freedom Flotilla has Israel nervous, very nervous. They know the world is watching this time.

Hamas states on the Website for Al Qassam Brigades, that Palestinian people were shocked when they heard the news of the killing the Italian ISM activist Vottorio Arrigoni. While it was Hamas that initially stated the culprits were members of an extreme religious faction in Gaza, the government now says the resistance factions in Gaza have rushed to distance themselves from the murder-kidnapping.

The resistance factions in Gaza have decried the murder of Italian ISM activist Vittoria Arrigoni, who was kidnapped on Thursday, and found dead early Friday morning.

Hamas says Israel wanted to tell the world, especially the activists who support Gaza and the Palestinian cause, that If they visit Gaza, someone will kill them.

Connection- Suspicious Similarities

Juliano Mer-Khamis 1958-2011

Of course many will immediately dismiss the possibility that Israel would have had a direct role in not just Vittorio 'Vik' Arrigoni's murder, but also the 4 April 2011 murder of Palestinian filmmaker Juliano Mer-Khamis.

Juilano's mother Arna had famously provided a haven for the Palestinian youth in Jenin. She was Jewish. Her husband, Juliano's father, was a Palestinian Christian.

Our writer Gilad Atzmon in London wrote, "According to Jenin police chief Mohammed Tayyim, Mer-Khamis was shot five times by Palestinian militants, but that police were still investigating the circumstances of his murder. I would wait to learn more about the tragic incident; as we know, the IDF trains special units that are operating disguised as Palestinians militants."

"Palestinian militants" is too cliche; probably our first clue stems from a cursory examination of who the benefactors of these murders are. Both are extremely demoralizing for both Palestinians and their worldwide activist friends. I know it will only strengthen resolve, but today hearts are broken and brutality took a real toll.

Nothing was gained for Palestinians by either man's death, and that includes the hardcore jihadists. It's like saying upper echelon in the IDF were murdered and the immediate suspects were Israeli soldiers, what would the odds of that be?

These men were both beacons, real lights of hope that allowed the beleaguered people of Palestine, surviving a brutal military occupation from Israel, to know there is a reason to live, and that people care and they are not always their own countrymen, that point in fact is key.

According to Hamas, "Israel searched for new techniques to foil the efforts of breaking the injustice siege on Gaza people. It found that past technique of killing the peace activists, like what has happened in Mavi Marmara, failed."

Hamas says there is a similarity between the two techniques because, "Israeli soldiers took some of peace activists to the back of the ship and executed them, the Israeli soldiers knew that they didn’t carry weapons."

Vittorio Arrigoni, Ken O'Keefe and Cormac O'Daly on the Gaza Strip in late November 2010.

Both the victims of the Mavi Marmara attack and Vik Arrigoni, were totally unarmed. Ken O'Keefe was aboard the Mavi Marmara and he personally disarmed two of the Israeli commandos and then handed them off to the ship's crew who took them below and gave them medical treatment, before releasing them back to the IDF which was still in the process of killing people aboard the ship. Then the Israelis refused medical treatment and two of the dead passed who could have been saved. It was vastly inhumane.

The common theme observed 31 May of last year in international ocean waters during the Flotilla attack that left nine dead, is that Israel both has what it takes to shoot unarmed victims execution style, as well as the moral fortitude to willfully deny it later to the United Nations. The UN is the agency that investigated and determined that Israel had committed numerous war crimes that day, and the UN investigators are who brought forth the confirmation of the IDF' execution killings of the unarmed civilians.

Hamas says the culprits were, not surprisingly, Israeli Shin Bet agents, "Palestinian traitors helped the service, used the same techniques, Gaza government security personnel found Arrigoni's body in an abandoned house in Gaza following his abduction by Israeli traitors. Two men were arrested and others were being sought in relation to Arrigoni's murder," the official added.

With regard to Palestinians aiding the Israelis, first consider that Gazans are in often cases dirt poor, and Israel blocks the essential items they need in regard to rebuilding their homes, all of which were damaged or destroyed by Israeli military operations. Just the fact that they are homes that were attacked, should set off red flags all over the world. Second, the Israelis are the best in the world at using information against people.

Palestinians who cooperated, if that is the case, easily could have done so under dire threat from Israeli agents. There is no end to what they would be willing to do. The Hamas statements do not reveal anything that wasn't already totally under consideration by many in the pro-Palestine community.

Hamas condemned the murder and characterized it as "a shameful act, contrary to the tradition of the Palestinian people."

Rachel Corrie

Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhoum said, "The goal of this depraved band of outlaws is to spread chaos and anarchy in the Gaza Strip, a desperate attempt to strike at the stable security situation." Barhoum believes the kidnapping and murder of Arrigoni was intended to scuttle the next Gaza flotilla, expected to depart next month.

Barhoum explained that he believed the murder was meant to dissuade other foreign activists from arriving on the Gaza Strip.

Tom Hurndall

For those who study this ongoing conflict, the idea doesn't sound very hard to believe, at least from a strategic point of view.

Israel's military is already behind the murders of two ISM activists; American Rachel Corrie, and Tom Hurndall of Great Britain.

Rachel was killed by a bulldozer operator while trying to prevent the destruction of a Palestinian doctor's home. (see: (From: Mar-16-2011: On the 8th Anniversary of Rachel Corrie's Stand in Gaza - Craig and Cindy Corrie, The Rachel Corrie Foundation)

Tom was shot in the head by a sniper saving small children from the same sniper. (see: Feb-03-2011: The Shooting of Tom Hurndall - Film review by Tim King Salem-News.com)

With regard to Hamas, it is important to note that Vik had been very critical of them in an article published recently by Salem-News.com 18 March 2011 titled: Gaza's Youth: Hopes Broken at 15 March End Of Division Demonstration.

Vik didn't pull any punches, he was clearly disgusted by what he saw from Hamas. There was sporadic brutality toward an otherwise jubilant crowd, then it became much worse, as he described:

Hamas decided to end the festivities in its own way: Hundreds of policemen and plainclothes agents surrounded the area, once again armed with clubs and brutally attacked the peaceful demonstrators and burned their tents in the hospital area.

About 300 demonstrators were injured, with the majority of then being women , dozens of broken bones abound. Throughout the whole night, as the injured were released from Al Shifa hospital in the center of Gaza city, Hamas police arrested them one by one as the exited the emergency room.
- Vittorio Arrigoni for Salem-News.com

Yet in spite of this very direct harsh assessment that happened just as he described, it was not Hamas that threatened his life. It was Hamas that tried to save him. Vic told the story of Palestine's suffering; his work made Israel look like what it really is.

Vik was sickened by what he witnessed; the fishermen of Gaza, at least 20 of whom have been murdered at sea by the Israeli navy, were a focus of his attention. Vik was even shot during one of the many shooting encounters.

Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhoum accused Israel of perpetrating the murder of Arrigoni because he had been a vocal opponent of Israel's policies in Gaza, and frequently blogged about 'Israeli crimes against Palestinians' equating Israeli policies to 'Nazi' crimes. Vik Arrigoni had also been arrested twice by Israeli authorities, Barhoum alleged. (From: Shin Bet kills the Italian ISM activist Vittorio Arrigoni - Al Qassam Brigade Website)

One could write an endless amount about the pain this has caused. Vittorio's mother has stated that she does not want his body returned home via Israel, she wants to receive his remains through Egypt.

As in the case of other heroes I have studied, Vik was on the verge of returning home. His father was ill and he knew that Gaza had been increasingly becoming more dangerous.

_________________________________________________________

Anti Peace Activist Hate Group's Death Threats

It is also noteworthy that a group called Stop the ISM had called specifically for his death, as well as the deaths of other activists from ISM.

The only reason ISM exists is to counter the brutality and internationally illegal behavior of Israel, and for that they wanted him dead. It seems in a decent world, that this would not tolerated, but it was and is.

In fact Stop the ISM works with and in support of AIPAC and other Zionist groups that support Israel's separate laws for Jews and non-Jews, as well as a long list of human rights violations.

These are the mainstream Israeli and Americans who largely control congress and in fact we are coming right up on the AIPAC Conference held annually in the U.S. AIPAC and others are absolutely consorting with terrorists and this maniac, sick organization in my opinion, is on a level with the Westboro Baptist Church in regard to its hatefulness. On behalf of my Jewish friends and my position in this world as a human being, I am ashamed they exist. (Learn more about the group's hit list in this article originally published by the now defunct Palestine Think Tank: Those who want to bump off the witnesses of the slaughter)

_________________________________________________________

Why was Vittorio in Gaza? What drove him to fight and place his body at risk in order to help people who desperately needed him? One reason is that he is descended from fascist and Nazi fighting grandfathers; men who fought against the occupation of Italy.

"Because he sought to do what the United Nations was failing to do, and is charged with doing, enforcing international law-- he was willing to serve as a "human shield" against violent Israeli encroachments on human freedom in occupied Gaza." (From: Arrigoni: I came here because my grandfathers fought fascist occupation in Italy - Philip Weiss Mondoweiss)

Thoughts on Vittorio from ISM

Philip Weiss

We mourn the lionhearted Vittorio’s death. And while we recognize that he was killed by a radical Palestinian faction, and we condemn radical Islamism, this in no way diminishes our own commitment to ending the cruel occupation. Read more

Mohammed Rabah Suliman, Gaza

Now that you moved to live in our hearts, we’ll become stronger and fiercer in the battle against occupation, humiliation and injustice. Vittorio. Such an inspiration to all of us. You taught us that life isn’t worth living if one isn’t ready to fight against its injustice, and that’s what gives it a meaning, that’s what makes it all beautiful. Now, empowered by your “memory”, we’ll carry on the fight together. Read more

Statement on Behalf of Italian NGO Workers in Palestine

We express our sincere condolences with Vittorio’s family, his friends and companions in the International Solidarity Movement and with all the people who have known him during the past years, when he was serving as a focal point for all of us in Gaza. Read more

ISM London

ISM London are in shock and sorrow from the death of Vittorio Arrigoni. He visited London frequently and many of us knew him as a friend as well as a deeply committed activist for the Palestinian cause. Our thoughts and sympathy are with his family, friends and his fellow ISM volunteers.

Read more: Solidarity Statements in honor of Vittorio Arrigoni

A tribute to Vittorio Arrigoni (1975-2011), Lived in Gaza, From Italy, International Solidarity Movement.

Produced by Atif Wahab

Articles regarding Vittorio's loss

Apr-17-2011: Vittorio Never Was as Much Alive as he is Now - By Egidia Beretta Arrigoni, Mother of Vittorio Arrigoni

Apr-17-2011: I Do Not Believe That A Palestinian Killed Vittorio Arrigoni - Gilad Atzmon Salem-News.com

Apr-17-2011: Vittorio and Israel's Attack on the Intellectual Intifada - Lauren Booth Salem-News.com

Apr-16-2011: Was Israel's Shin Bet Behind Vittorio Arrigoni's Brutal Murder? - Tim King Salem-News.com

Apr-15-2011: AMP expresses deep condolences to ISM and family of Vittorio Arrigoni - Salem-News.com

Apr-15-2011: We Mourn Another Friend... Vittorio Arrigoni - Dr. Mazin Qumsiyeh Salem-News.com

Apr-14-2011: Hero of Gaza: Vittorio Arrigoni, Kidnapped and Murdered - Tim King and Bonnie King Salem-News.com

Apr-14-2011: Famed Activist Vittorio Arrigoni Kidnapped in Gaza - Feared Dead - Tim King Salem-News.com

Articles regarding the death of Juliano Mer Khamis:

April-05-2011: Losing Juliano - Dr. Mazin Qumsiyeh Salem-News.com

April-04-2011: Filmmaker Juliano Mer-Khamis was Murdered Today in Jenin - Gilad Atzmon Salem-News.com

Articles by Vittorio on Salem-News.com:

Mar-23-2011: Israel's Attack on Civilians: Two Children Killed - Vittorio Arrigoni Special to Salem-News.com

Mar-18-2011: Gaza's Youth: Hopes Broken at 15 March End Of Division Demonstration - By Vittorio Arrigoni for Salem-News.com

Mar-04-2011: 15 March Palestine: End of Division - Vittorio Arrigoni for Salem-News.com

Nov-10-2010: The First Targeted US Killing in Gaza - Vittorio Arrigoni for Salem-News.com

Also:

Nov-30-2010: Israeli Soldiers Fire at Road to Hope Convoy Members - Tim King Salem-News.com

Advisory regarding comments: Comments on this story need to be of a respectful nature or they will not be approved, you have been advised.

_________________________________

Tim King is a former U.S. Marine with twenty years of experience on the west coast as a television news producer, photojournalist, reporter and assignment editor. In addition to his role as a war correspondent, this Los Angeles native serves as Salem-News.com's Executive News Editor. Tim spent the winter of 2006/07 covering the war in Afghanistan, and he was in Iraq over the summer of 2008, reporting from the war while embedded with both the U.S. Army and the Marines. Tim holds numerous awards for reporting, photography, writing and editing, including the Oregon AP Award for Spot News Photographer of the Year (2004), first place Electronic Media Award in Spot News, Las Vegas, (1998), Oregon AP Cooperation Award (1991); and several others including the 2005 Red Cross Good Neighborhood Award for reporting. Tim has several years of experience in network affiliate news TV stations, having worked as a reporter and photographer at NBC, ABC and FOX stations in Arizona, Nevada and Oregon. You can send Tim an email at this address: newsroom@salem-news.com

_________________________________




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Lucia April 17, 2011 11:18 pm (Pacific time)

The tides are now turning against Israel. If you kill one humanitarian, you create 5 more, if you kill one Zionist, you create 5 more - which is why there is globally an exponentially increasing number of pro-Palestinian humanitarians and a decreasing number of the violent and hateful Zionists. What people don't get is that we on earth are all connected, and when you do an act, its effects ripple throughout the entire world, like the reverberation of an echo. Before his death, there was Vittorio and his friends, family and acquaintances. Now his murder has touched countless people across the globe in one way or another, and resulted in his mother joining the flotilla. How many new people does his mother and her actions touch? We are all connected.


Lucia April 17, 2011 10:53 pm (Pacific time)

Was it the writer's intention to say that the ISM would kill Vittorio in this sentence? "There is no point in denying that it makes a great deal of sense that the International Solidarity Movement (ISM) [a sworn enemy of the Zionist state of Israel] would do this."

I want to link to this article, but that paragraph is both disturbing and confusing.

Tim King: Lucia, I humbly apologize for that confusing paragraph, it is restructured.  We are solidly behind the ISM and their mission, we already were and have been but we will now increase this support.  Again, sorry for the confusion.  


Liam April 17, 2011 9:39 am (Pacific time)

Don't you think it's time for Salem-News to become intellectually honest?
IDF nabs terrorist butchers of Jewish family// An army spokesman told Israel Radio that 18-year-old Hakem Awwad and 19-year-old Amjad Awwad confessed to the murders of Udi and Ruth Fogel and three of their young children, and that they showed absolutely no remorse for their crime. After exiting the house, Amjad told officials that he could not resist the urge to go back in and kill 3-month-old Hadas Fogel, who was left crying amidst her parents' blood. Words fail. It is also important to note that Palestinian society views the killers of Israeli Jews, and especially Israeli "settlers," as national heroes, increasing the motivation to engage in such violence.

Editor: The Fogel family was murdered over an unpaid debt.  It is sad but you are sadder trying to use their tragic death as a political tool when it is not one.  Israeli soldiers shoot Palestinian kids for target practice.  Look up the Samouni family and read about how those darling IDF thugs killed babies,. mothers, fathers in front of their families; kids in front of their fathers.  Palestinians are downtrodden and not responsible for any actions they take as long as a genocide against them is taking place.  


eileen fleming April 16, 2011 4:25 pm (Pacific time)

STAY HUMAN

Freedom Flotilla Renames Voyage in Honor of Slain Activist Vittorio Arrigoni

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Freedom Flotilla 2 Steering Committee

April 15, 2011 (London)

The next flotilla of boats that will set sail to break the siege of Gaza will be named FREEDOM FLOTILLA – STAY HUMAN in memory of Vittorio Arrigoni, an Italian activist and volunteer who was murdered Tuesday by an extremist group in the Gaza Strip. “Vik,” 36, was a passenger on the first small flotilla that broke the siege in 2008, and has lived and volunteered in the blockaded region off and on ever since.

“The murder of Vik is a tragedy for his family, fellow activists who knew him, and the Palestinians who loved and admired him,” said the Steering Committee of Freedom Flotilla 2. “We condemn this senseless murder and the people who are behind it. They took the life of one of the most passionate supporters of justice for Palestine. This murder is damaging to the Palestinian struggle for freedom and justice as well as to our work in support of that struggle.”

The committee added that, in his honor, it is calling its next voyage FREEDOM FLOTILLA – STAY HUMAN, the name of the book he was in the process of writing.

“Nothing that we write can capture the man who was so full of the joy of life, a man with a pipe in his mouth and a captain’s hat always tilted at an angle on his head. The man with the big smile and gentle nature, someone who used his physical strength to hold small children in his arms, sometimes several at a time. His laughter and his last comments every time we saw him will ring in all of our ears as we board the boats to return to Gaza at the end of May. ‘Stay Human,’ he would say, then grin and clench his pipe in his teeth.



“We will do our best, Vik, to carry on the work you have done. The flotilla will return to Gaza in your honor.”

Arrigoni sailed on the first small boat to enter Gaza in the summer of 2008, one of 44 activists protesting the illegal blockade imposed by Israel against the 1.6 million Palestinians living in Gaza. He returned to Gaza in February of 2010, and was planning to depart Gaza to visit his ill father the following week. He was kidnapped by an extremist “Salafist” group for unknown reasons.

“The crime committed by these individuals do not represent the Palestinian people, who loved Vittorio,” said Mohamad Hannoun, a spokesperson from Italy for the European Committee to End the Siege of Gaza (ECESG), which is sponsoring a boat in the next flotilla. “And this act of brutal injustice will not deter activists around the world who will set sail in May to end the inhumane siege of Gaza and protect their inalienable right to be free from foreign occupation and live in dignity, freedom and independence. This is what Vik worked so hard for, and his spirit will be beside us as we set sail.”


eileen fleming April 16, 2011 2:40 pm (Pacific time)

Vik was a much loved man because he loved much. He and all those who have had their lives taken for standing up for what they believed will inspire others to unite in the good fight for a FREE GAZA PALESTINE in a land where equal human rights for all are the law of the land.


xexon April 16, 2011 1:28 pm (Pacific time)

Difficult to say. But these people like to misdirect attention. As soon as I heard, I consulted my favorite Middle Eastern news source. Then I compared. Western sources were saying it was two radical groups. My source had an article in which they denied it was their people, http://www.imemc.org/article/61068


Benjamin Fischel April 16, 2011 11:49 am (Pacific time)

There should be no doubt that the next Gaza war...

Editor: Get lost, you are using multiple names under a single IP and that is not allowed here, let alone your weak minded propaganda.  I think you need to go to the JP and stay there.


Anonymous April 16, 2011 9:15 am (Pacific time)

(There was a second page to the article that I missed:)

The most interesting part of this is contained in the last four paragraphs.

The Hamas authorities were reluctant on Friday to accuse any Palestinian group of murdering Mr. Arrigoni. Hamas officials suggested possible Israeli involvement, noting that Israel was working to thwart the plans for the upcoming international flotilla.

“We cannot deny the relation between this incident and an international campaign by the Zionist enemy to restrict the arrival of pro-Palestinian activists,” said Mahmoud Zahar, a Hamas leader in Gaza.

************************************

In one of the saddest ironies of his death, it came on the day he was planning to leave, at least for a while, declaring himself worn out by the endless Israeli-Palestinian conflict, according to a close friend, Daniela Loffreda.

But he had been worried about leaving because of rising tensions on the border with Israel after a recent Hamas attack on a school bus in Israel that critically injured a 16-year-old boy. In the subsequent clashes, 19 Palestinians, including some civilians, were killed in Gaza and he feared more deaths from Israeli fire.

In an e-mail to Ms. Loffreda, he wrote, “I am very tense, exhausted, if they don’t kill anyone in the next 24 hours, I am getting out Thursday. Your V.”

Khalil Shaheen of the Palestinian Center for Human Rights in Gaza said he spent five hours with Mr. Arrigoni on Wednesday evening, during which they discussed Mr. Arrigoni’s plans to return home. “He was reluctant,” Mr. Shaheen recalled. “He said: ‘How shall I leave Gaza? I don’t want people to think that I fled.’ ”

(There was a second page to the article that I missed:)

The most interesting part of this is contained in the last four paragraphs.

The Hamas authorities were reluctant on Friday to accuse any Palestinian group of murdering Mr. Arrigoni. Hamas officials suggested possible Israeli involvement, noting that Israel was working to thwart the plans for the upcoming international flotilla.

“We cannot deny the relation between this incident and an international campaign by the Zionist enemy to restrict the arrival of pro-Palestinian activists,” said Mahmoud Zahar, a Hamas leader in Gaza.

************************************

Regardless of what people may have thought about the issues between Israel and Palestine, one has to respect an individual who gives his time, blood, sweat and life for a cause that he believes in. And, he did so without violence.


Anonymous April 16, 2011 9:10 am (Pacific time)

The New York Times wrote this about Hamas and Tawhid and Jihad (which denied responsibility):

"Hamas had earlier tried to crack down on the group, Tawhid and Jihad, that appeared to be behind the abduction, and had imprisoned its leader, Hisham Saidani, in March. In a video released Thursday, the kidnappers said they had captured the Italian in an attempt to free Mr. Saidani, and that they would execute him in 30 hours — at 5 p.m. on Friday — if their demands were not met. The video showed Mr. Arrigoni, alive but beaten and bloodied, and featured Islamic insignia and a map of Gaza.

In the end, the doctor who performed the autopsy said it appeared that Mr. Arrigoni had been killed at least 24 hours before the deadline was set to expire.

The details of the crime remain muddled. Tawhid and Jihad issued a denial of responsibility on Friday, but there was no way of verifying that claim, nor the identity of those behind the video. Although Hamas said it had arrested one Palestinian suspect in relation to the crime, on Friday it hinted that Israel might have played a part, offering no evidence."

Gaza Killing of Italian Activist Deals a Blow to Hamas - NY Times


Anonymous April 16, 2011 9:03 am (Pacific time)

It is interesting that the entire event was not even covered by http://www.haaretz.com/.


Skandal April 16, 2011 8:36 am (Pacific time)

The drivel you idiots publish make make Charlie Sheen seem sane! Bravo!

Editor: I'd rather have him to count on in a tough spot than someone like you who, in your last comment about Vittorio, was totally disrespectful.   

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