Abbas honors two activists murdered in West Bank, Gaza

PA president declares slain men, Juliano Mer-Khamis and Vittorio Arrigoni, "martyrs," awards both "Medal of Jerusalem."

Mer-Khamis 311 (photo credit: Wikimedia commons)
Mer-Khamis 311
(photo credit: Wikimedia commons)
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas on Sunday honored two slain activists who were murdered in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip for their activities in support of Palestinians.
The two, Israeli-Arab actor Juliano Mer-Khamis, and Italian activist Vittorio Arrigoni, were murdered in separate cases in the Jenin refugee camp and Gaza City.
The murderers of Arrigoni have since been killed or captured by Hamas authorities in the Gaza Strip. Meanwhile, the PA security forces in the West Bank have failed to apprehend those behind the slaying of Mer-Khamis, who helped establish the Freedom Theater in the refugee camp.
The murders of the two pro-Palestinian activists has seriously embarrassed the Palestinian governments in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip.
The two governments have since announced that they would name streets and squares after Arrigoni and Mer-Khamis to honor their memory.
Abbas also decided on Sunday to award the two men with the “Medal of Jerusalem,” one of the most prestigious awards in the PA.
Abbas’s announcement came during a visit he paid to a mourning tent that was set in Ramallah to commemorate the two activists.
Abbas said that granting the award to Arrigoni and Mer-Khamis was the least the PA could do to those who served the Palestinian cause with unflinching devotion.
He also declared the two men martyrs of the Palestinian cause.
Hundreds of people paid tribute to Arrigoni, who was 36, at his funeral in the quiet town of Bulciago, some 35 km. north of Milan, where his mother is mayor.
His body was found earlier this month in an abandoned house in the Gaza Strip after he was abducted by militants from a Jihadist Salafi group the day before.
Arrigoni was a committed supporter of Palestinians, and a vocal critic of Israeli policy.
One of the prelates who presided at the funeral mass was Archbishop Hilarion Capucci, of the Greek-Melchite Catholic Church.
Capucci was arrested by Israelis in the 1970s for smuggling weapons to the PLO in a diplomatic car.
Reuters contributed to this report.