Hamas claims Israel killed Italian to stop Gaza flotilla

ByJPOST.COM STAFF
April 15, 2011 13:56

Islamic groups disclaim kidnapping, murder of activist; al-Qaida-linked group had previously claimed responsibility, made ransom demands.




Italian activist Vittorio Arrigoni

Italian activist Vittorio Arrigoni 311 (R). (photo credit:REUTERS/Suhaib Salem)

Radical Islamic terrorist organizations in the Gaza Strip distanced themselves from the kidnapping and murder of Italian activist Vittorio Arrigoni, who was found dead early Friday morning in the Strip.

Among the groups who disclaimed the attack was Tawhid wal-Jihad, the al-Qaida-linked group that had initially said it was holding the Italian national and said they would only release him if their own leader, recently arrested by Hamas, was released, Gaza-based newspaper Palestine Today reported.

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Hamas also condemned the killing, saying that it was a shameful act, contrary to the tradition of the Palestinian people. Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhoum said that the "goal of this depraved band of outlaws was to spread chaos and anarchy in the Gaza Strip, a desperate attempt to strike at the stable security situation."


He added that the kidnapping and murder of Arrigoni was intended to prevent the next flotilla headed to the Gaza Strip, expected to depart next month. Barhoum explained that he believed the murder was meant to dissuade other foreign activists from arriving in the Strip.

Accordingly, Hamas accused Israel of being behind the attack, noting that Arrigoni had often spoken out against Israeli policies in Gaza, going so far as to compare what he called "Israeli crimes against Palestinians" to Nazi crimes. Additionally, he was twice arrested by Israeli authorities.

Security personnel in the Gaza Strip found Arrigoni's body in an abandoned house in the Gaza Strip following his abduction by terrorists, a Hamas official said on Friday.

Two men were arrested and others were being sought in the killing of Vittorio Arrigoni, the Hamas official added.

A Jihadist Salafi group in Gaza aligned with al-Qaida had threatened on Thursday to execute Arrigoni by 5 p.m. local time (2 p.m. GMT) unless their leader, arrested by Hamas last month, was freed.

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