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Activist Vittorio Arrigoni’s body said to be found in Gaza

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Terrible news. Hamas authorities have found the body of activist Vittorio Arrigoni, 36, inside a house in the Gaza Strip, the BBC is reporting. The International Solidarity Movement member was abducted early on Thursday. BBC:

Hamas police reportedly found his dead body inside a house.

Vittorio Arrigoni was seized by a radical Islamic group on Thursday morning and video of him blindfolded with tape was later posted on YouTube.

Arrigoni had been in Gaza throughout the onslaught of Cast Lead, two years ago. He also worked as a freelance journalist. We were honored to run his work. Haaretz says:

The body… was discovered in the home of a member of the extreme Islamist group that claimed responsibility for the abduction. Four suspects have already been arrested.

Hamas authorities claim to be taking measures to locate additional suspects involved in the alleged abduction and subsequent murder.

Italian consular officials said that Arrigoni was taken on Thursday morning.

Max Ajl has the video here. The Gaza-based blog Revealing Gaza adds:

Salafi Jehadis claimed the responsibility of kidnapping and abducting him asking Hamas government in Gaza to release Abu Al Waleed Al Maqdisi in 30 hours starting from 11 am today 14\4\2011 or else they would kill him.

Earlier today the BBC reported:

Mr Arrigoni is the first foreigner kidnapped in Gaza since BBC journalist Alan Johnston was snatched in 2007.

The BBC’s Gaza correspondent Jon Donnison says the group that is thought to have taken Mr Arrigoni is part of a movement sometimes called Salafism.

Salafists have often been in conflict with Hamas, the Islamist movement that governs Gaza, and they consider Hamas too moderate, says our correspondent.

In the video, the kidnappers demand that Hamas release a number of Salafist prisoners.

In a more recent post the blog author Omar Ghraieb adds:

Ansar Al Sunah “Salafi” Group in Gaza, declared their responsibility of Vittorio’s abduction and said they will release a press release soon. According to PalToday Magazine.
 
Join Vittorio’s support group on Facebook: http://on.fb.me/ghRe0k
 
Sign this petition asking for his immediate release and share it : http://goo.gl/4TFRd
 
Gazans will move to Al Jundi Sq. tomorrow at 4 pm in Gaza to protest and ask for his immediate release, join the facebook event: http://www.facebook.com/?ref=home#!/event.php?eid=218681814813064

Despite the grim news, our prayers are with Vittorio and we will pass along updates and things you can do to help as we receive them.

Earlier today, The International Solidarity Movement issued this press release:

INTERNATIONAL SOLIDARITY MOVEMENT
FREE GAZA MOVEMENT
http://palsolidarity.org/2011/04/17643/

For Immediate Release

[April 14, 2001] Today, our friend and colleague, Vittorio Arrigoni, a journalist and human rights defender working in the Gaza Strip, was kidnapped by Salafists, members of a very small extremist group in Gaza.

Vittorio has been active in the Palestine cause for almost 10 years. For the past two and a half years, he has been in Gaza with the International Solidarity Movement, monitoring human rights violations by Israel, supporting the Palestinian popular resistance against the Israeli occupation and disseminating information about the situation in Gaza to his home country of Italy. He was aboard the siege-breaking voyage in 2008 with the Free Gaza Movement and was incarcerated in Israeli prisons several times. He was in Gaza throughout Israel’s brutal assault (Operation Cast Lead), assisting medics and reporting to the world what Israel was doing to the Palestinian people. He has been arrested numerous times by Israeli forces for his participation in Palestinian non-violent resistance in the West Bank and Gaza. His last arrest and deportation from the area was a result of the Israeli confiscation of Palestinian fishing vessels in Gazan territorial waters.

Vittorio frequently writes on the issue of Palestine for the Italian newspaper, IL Manifesto and Peacereporter. Additionally, he maintains a popular blog (http://guerrillaradio.iobloggo.com) and facebook page (http://www.facebook.com/pages/Vittoriatio-Arrigoni/)

Khalil Shaheen, a friend of Vittorio and Head of the Economic and Social Rights Department at the Palestinian Center for Human Rights said, “This is outside of our traditions. We are calling for the immediate release of my best friend. Vittorio Arrigoni is a hero of Palestine. He was available everywhere to support all the poor people, the victims. I’m calling on the local authorities here in Gaza, and all security departments, to do their best to guarantee his safety and immediate release.”

Vittorio was granted honorary citizenship for his work on promoting the cause of the Palestinian people. Members of Gazan civil society are demanding his release; tomorrow at 4:00pm there will be a mass demonstration in Jundi Square.

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