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Email update from Free Gaza

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A message from Mary Hughes Thompson, one of the activists on board the first boat into Gaza,. Vik was on that boat, and we are all devastated with this news. Greta Throughout the day we prayed this would have the best kind of endings.  The kidnappers had given a deadline several hours away.  So this latest terrible news has devastated all of us who knew Vik.  He and I were on the FREE GAZA when it sailed to Gaza in August 2008.  He stayed behind in Gaza, and two months later he was kidnapped and arrested on a fishing boat near the coast of Gaza.  He was abducted to Israel, jailed in Ramle Prison and deported home to Italy.  Within days he was back in Gaza, where he stayed throughout the massacres of December 08 and January 09, leaving only briefly for Cairo where I last saw him during the Gaza Freedom March.  Words can't express the shock and sense of bereavement at the loss of this beautiful man, who considered himself Palestinian.  The videos we saw of him bloodied and blindfolded were chilling, nothing like the Vittorio we knew and loved, always smiling, always wearing a skipper's hat and holding his beloved pipe.   After Juliano Mer-Khamis, this is just too much.  May they both rest in peace. http://www.haaretz.com/news/ international/hamas-abducted- pro-palestinian-activist- found-dead-in-gaza-1.356099 Hamas: Abducted pro-Palestinian activist found dead in Gaza Two suspects have been arrested in the alleged kidnapping and subsequent murder of Italian Vittorio Arrigoni, an activist in the International Solidarity Movement; Arrigoni's body was found in an abandoned house in Gaza. An Italian pro-Palestinian activist, reported kidnapped by extremist militants on Thursday, was found dead in Gaza, Hamas officials reported. The body of Vittorio Arrigoni, 36, from Italy was discovered in the home of a member of the extreme Islamist group that claimed responsibility for the abduction. Two suspects have already been arrested. The video shows a man with a thick black blindfold and a large bruise on his face. Apparently seated, he is held in front of the camera by an unseen person. In a message on the video, the extremist group that calls itself Monotheism and Holy War demanded that Hamas free its leader, arrested in early March, and two other members whose names had not been previously known. Sheikh Abu Walid-al-Maqdasi, the leader of the group, was arrested in a crowded beachside neighborhood of Gaza City last month. Although Hamas authorities were responsible for locating Arrigoni, Hamas itself is a fundamentalist Islamic group. But it faces challenges from even more extremist offshoots of Islam, including Walid-al-Maqdasi's group, that take inspiration from Al-Qaida and the world jihad movement. Hamas has denied that al-Qaida has a presence in Gaza. Kidnappings of foreigners were common before the Hamas takeover. Most of those abducted were foreign correspondents, including Alan Johnston of the BBC, who was abducted and held for 114 days before being freed in July 2007, just after Hamas overran Gaza, expelling forces loyal to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas. ISM, the organization to which Arrigoni belonged, operates in the West Bank and Gaza and is known for trying to prevent the Israeli military from carrying out its missions. Arraf said this activist has been going in and out of Gaza for more than two years. He was working with farmers and fishermen. The ISM incident that got the most attention was the 2003 death of American activist Rachel Corrie, who was crushed by an Israeli military bulldozer in southern Gaza while trying to block its path.Hamas authorities claim to be taking measures to locate additional suspects involved in the alleged abduction and subsequent murder. Earlier Thursday, a video claiming to show the victim emerged from Gaza along with a demand by an extremist group to the Hamas government to release its leader, who was arrested last month. The group set a deadline of Friday afternoon, threatening to execute the hostage. Huwaida Arraf, co-founder of the International Solidarity Movement, said the abducted man in the video appeared to be one of its activists, identifying him as Arrigoni. Hamas police reportedly stormed the Gaza City apartment, home of a member of the extremist group that released the video, where they found Arrigoni dead. It is unclear how he was killed. -- "Those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities."  Voltaire -- You received this message because you are subscribed to the Google Groups "FG Free-for-All Discussion List" group. To post to this group, send email to  FG-Discussions@googlegroups. com . To unsubscribe from this group, send email to  FG-Discussions+unsubscribe@ googlegroups.com . For more options, visit this group at  http://groups.google.com/ group/FG-Discussions?hl=en . --   Greta Berlin, Co-Founder +33 607 374 512 witnessgaza.com www.freegaza.org http://www.flickr.com/photos/ freegaza

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