x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 26 July 2017

Palestinian killers of Italian activist jailed

Two Palestinians found guilty of kidnapping and murdering Vittoria Arrigoni receive life terms, with another sentenced to 10 years for kidnapping, and a fourth jailed for a year for providing the house where he was found hanged.

Friends of murdered Italian peace activist Vittorio Arrigoni stand inside the grounds of the military court building in Gaza City.
Friends of murdered Italian peace activist Vittorio Arrigoni stand inside the grounds of the military court building in Gaza City.

GAZA CITY, PALESTINIAN TERRITORIES // Four Palestinians were yesterday jailed after a Gaza military court found them guilty of the kidnap and murder of an Italian peace activist in April last year.

Mahmud Al Salfiti, 24, and Tamer Al Husasna, 26, were found guilty of kidnapping and murdering Vittorio Arrigoni and each sentenced by the court in the Hamas-ruled enclave to life imprisonment.

Another member of the militant Tawhid wal Jihad group, Khadr Faruk Jerim, 26, received a 10-year prison term for kidnapping the Italian while a fourth, Amer Abu Ghola, 26, was jailed for a year for providing the house in which Arrigoni was found hanged.

The tribunal also ordered the dismissal of Al Salfiti, Al Husasna and Jerim from the police force they served with. Abu Ghola worked as a fisherman.

Arrigoni, 36, a long-time member of the pro-Palestinian International Solidarity Movement (ISM), was kidnapped on April 14, last year in Gaza.

Shortly after his disappearance, a previously unknown Salafist group released a YouTube video showing a bruised and bloodied Arrigoni and threatened to kill him within 30 hours if Hamas failed to release a group of jihadist prisoners.

Hamas security forces found Arrigoni's body shortly afterwards, before the stated deadline, in an abandoned house in northern Gaza.

Among those held by Hamas that the Salafist group demanded be freed was Sheikh Hisham Al Saedini, a leader of Tawhid wal Jihad. He was eventually released last month following Jordanian intervention.

Hamas quickly arrested several suspects in the case, and a week later raided a house where three more suspects were reportedly hiding.

Two were killed during the raid, and a third was arrested.

Militant groups often defy the authority of the Muslim Brotherhood-affiliated Hamas, and accuse it of insufficient opposition to Israel and not imposing Sharia.

Arrigoni's death shocked the local community and international aid workers and activists in Gaza, where he had lived and worked for much of the three years before his death. His murder was the first of a foreigner in Gaza since Hamas took over in 2007.

Arrigoni was the third ISM member to be killed in Gaza - US national Rachel Corrie was crushed to death by an Israeli bulldozer in March 2003, and a month later Briton Tom Hurndall was shot and critically injured by the army. He died in January 2004.