Bissan writes (Ar) that because she believes in, among other things, the Palestinian Right to Return and that Palestine belongs to the Arab nation, she therefore opposes the upcoming visit of Mahmoud Abbas to Lebanon as well as the prospective Palestinian state intended to be voted upon at the UN.
Over the past few days, more than 250,000 Israelis have protested in the streets of Tel Aviv and other cities over the rising costs of housing and food. The protesters there borrowed much from the Arab Spring. They even carried banners that read “Leave, here is Egypt” in both Arabic and Hebrew, and used the well known Arab Spring chant where they kept the first part of it in Arabic and added a Hebrew part to it to become “Al-Shaab yurid Tzedek Chevrati” (The People demand Social Justice”).
On Twitter, Egyptians followed the protests, using a derogatory hash tag that makes funny analogies [Ar] between the events the took place during the Egyptian revolution, and imaginary similar events using names of Israeli officials and mock characters instead. However the name of the hashtag #ThawretWeladElKalb, which literally translates to “Sons of Dogs Revolution,” sparked lot of debate on both sides.
Israeli Elizabeth Tsurkov noticed the hashtag and tweeted her disappointment with it.
She also added:
On the other side of the border, people were divided. While some defended the hashtag, others found it inappropriate.
@cold0shoulder: An Israeli exclusive: protesting in someone else's occupied land!
Comr4da – who agrees with Ramy Zreik [Ar] that such protests might only lead to building new settlements on occupied land – said:
@Comr4de: الى المعاتيه اللى بيأيدوا مظاهرات الصهاينه.الحل الوحيد لمشكلة السكن اللى هى سبب التظاهر هو سرقه أرض جديده لبناء مستوطنات
Brazilian cartoonist Carlos Latuff also tweeted:
@CarlosLatuff: Egyptians don't be fooled. Protests in Israel have more to do with middle class living costs than against occupation
From Tunisia, Marwan-el-Tounisi added:
@Marwouantounsi: I am Tunisian and I support this: #ThawretWeladElKalb 10000%, Die Zionists.
On the other hand many others opposed the hashtag. Sara Abdelazim believes that generalization is bad. She added:
@Lujee: So for years ppl complain that nobody in Israel speaks up against what their government is doing and when they do, they get insulted for it?
Differentiation between Jews, Israelis and Zionists in daily Arabic language is sometimes not that clear. So, Nada Iskandar – who believes the hash tag is racist – tweeted that we should pay attention to such differences. Essam El-Zamil also decided to stop using the hashtag since some of the participants in the protests are Arabs. Ahmed Saker and Amr El Gohary found the hashtag childish and non-constructive respectively.
I do not hate Israelis (although the Arab educational system raises you up to hate Jews automatically, and to feel superior towards others in general) but I definitely oppose and hate the crimes done by the state of Israel, just the way I do with our Arab dictatorships (keeping in my mind that Israel has been acting way more merciful with its own citizens, unlike our almighty police-state regimes). On the other hand, I also have the same feelings towards Arab suicide bombers who kill people in a night club or a school bus. I believe killing a human cannot be justified what so ever, regardless of the ideology, identity, or religion of the victim and the victimizer.
Mona then added how the peaceful protest of Arabs in their Arab Spring shouldn't be stopped there.
Arabs cannot give up the peaceful path they chose, just when the subject comes to their “classical enemy” Israel. Arab revolutionaries should act more responsible not to contradict themselves and clearly understand what Gandhi once said “an eye for an eye makes the world blind”. They should give up their long heritage that is filled with epics about revenge represented within heroic frames.
Arabs should also understand that their revolutions will only stand up truly when they strongly believe that the revolutions are not only against figures of their regimes but also revolutions to reconstruct their cultures and root out all forms of discrimination because simply discrimination can never be justified and verbal abuse only makes you look worse. Arabs cannot label every Israeli as a criminal, and ironically enough, they do not know that people who protested recently in Israel come from different backgrounds including anti-occupation activists and Arab-Israelis.
Another Israeli blogger, The Elder of Ziyon, wrote saying that the reference of Jews as dog is historic.
In fact, calling someone a dog is also one of the most common swear words in Egypt. It is so common that it is one of the few swear words that are not censored in movies. Recently there was a debate in Egypt on whether a political reform should come first, or the rights of the poor; and an Egyptian blogger wrote a post under the name “It's the poor first, sons of dog [Ar]“, attacking those who care about political reform and constitutional changes more than social justice. The blog became so popular so that many people used to quote its title in their discussions on and off-line.
And finally, Ahmed Kamal suggested an alternative hashtag.
@ahmed_virgine: Thawret Welad El3am ,,,hom mesh bany admen zayena ….wallahe alsho3oa 3′albana al7okam homa wlad elkalb.
Reports are appearing online of a total communication blackout in Gaza. On Twitter, users are blaming Israeli bulldozers for the outage. Here is part of the conversation.
Egyptian Mohamed El Dahshan was among the first to break the news in a tweet:
@TravellerW: BREAKING – Israeli bulldozers break cables, sever ALL COMMUNICATIONS- mobile, landline, internet -from Gaza! http://t.co/ASIIQ1W #Palestine
@JalalAK_jojo: Note: It's been almost 6 hours since Gaza went into a sudden communication blackout due to Israeli bulldozers communication networks.
And Israeli journalist Joseph Dana is confused:
@ibnezra: According to reports on twitter, communications from Gaza have been cut off. Unclear if it is Israel which cut them off
From Jordan, Ali Abunimah checks if any of his Palestinian friends can read his tweets:
@avinunu: Friends in Gaza can you read this? Report that Israel has cut off all phone/internet communications
Benjamin Doherty posts similar concerns:
@bangpound: I’m checking up on my Gaza tweeps and none have said a thing in the last hour or so…
And Andy Carvin, NPR's senior strategist, replies:
@acarvin: @bangpound Twitter proximity search around Gaza. Not much posted. https://twitter.com/#!/search/near%3A%22gaza%22%20within%3A10mi
From the US, Darryl Li tweets his attempts to contact multiple landlines in Gaza, without much success.
@abubanda: Have tried dialing multiple landlines in #Gaza via skype, including UN offices, getting error messages — not even ringtones.
@abubanda: So far, mobiles in #Gaza I have called have been giving me standard non-service messages
And half an hour later, he adds:
@abubanda: Still not getting any ringtones in #Gaza, except in one high-level UN office (sep network?). Have tried >30 numbers, landlines & mobiles
Meanwhile, Leila is angry and calls for action:
@LSal92: Unbelievable! Israel is trying to completely shut off Gaza from the rest of the world. Stop your silence! Speak up! #Gaza
In a short news article, Maan News also blames (Ar) Israeli bulldozers cutting off cables for the outage.
The Freedom Flotilla 2 to Gaza will be missing an Irish ship, it emerged today.
The MV Saoirse has been reportedly sabotaged while at berth in the Turkish coastal town of Göcek and will now not be able to take part in the flotilla, says the Irish Ship to Gaza Campaign.
A total of 300 activists from around the world are taking part in the six-vessel flotilla to Gaza, which is aimed at breaking Israel's siege on Gaza and to deliver humanitarian aid to its population. It follows in the heels of last year's Gaza Freedom Flotilla, which ended tragically when Israeli forces boarded the flotilla after it had declined to change its course to the port of Ashdod, where Israel had promised to inspect the aid and deliver non-banned items to Gaza.
Nine passengers of the Comoros-flagged MV Mavi Marmara, which was part of the six-ship flotilla, were reported killed by Israeli soldiers who landed on the ship and 10 Israeli soldiers were injured.
This year's attempt, which includes nationals from Canada, the US, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Norway and the UK, among others, is a highly politicized campaign and activists are using social media creatively to encourage press coverage and global support. The US Boat to Gaza website is inviting journalists to come look at the entire boat in a press release on their homepage.
smac shares footage and photographs of the damage the Irish vessel had encountered here. He writes:
On Monday the ships 3 crew members, Shane Dillon, John Hearne and Pat Fitzgerald; along with Clr Gerry MacLochlainn, Charlie McMenamin (both from Derry) with John Mallon and Phil McCullough (both from Belfast) set sail on the MV Saoirse for re-fueling and a test run.
On the way back to port Pat Fitzgerald, ship’s engineer, noticed that something was very wrong with the boat. Upon returning to the dock the first inspections began, it was then we realised that sabotage had been done to Ireland’s boat.
The campaign reports “deep cuts inflicted onto the propeller shaft,” which was “also seriously and dangerously bent.”
This same type of sabotage was done to another vessel in Greece only days ago. This was a vicious attack on Irish property by international terrorists against a boat flying the Irish flag. The ship is so damaged it will now be unable to take part in the Flotilla. However arrangements are being made to find seats on other ships for as many Irish passengers as possible.
Fintan Lane is seen here speaking about the damage the ship suffered:
Irish Times foreign affairs correspondent Mary Fitzgerald reports:
@MaryFitzgerldIT: Irish ship due to sail in Gaza flotilla has problems with propeller. Organisers believe it may have been sabotaged. http://bit.ly/leKYKE
@MaryFitzgerldIT: Irish taking part in Gaza flotilla accuse Israel of sabotaging their ship and call on Irish govt to raise issue with Israeli counterparts
@MaryFitzgerldIT: Irish FM is ‘concerned' re reports Irish ship in Gaza flotilla sabotaged. Says will take ‘very serious view' if sab proved in investigation
A Facebook page, calling for a sit-in in Dublin to protest against the damage the ship has suffered, has been set up.
The page says:
The Irish Ship To Gaza have called an EMERGENCY DEMONSTRATION for today in response to this outrageous act. We are calling on people to assemble at 6pm at the Spire in O'Connell Street. From there we will march to the Israeli Embassy and stage an overnight sit-in outside (so bring sleeping bags etc). We intend to shut down the Israeli Embassy!
We need this demo to be as loud as possible, so if you have drums, bodrans, whistles, whatever, please bring them along.
This act of sabotage against a peaceful humanitarian civil society mission (which has been paid for by 1000s of ordinary Irish people) must be protested in the strongest terms possible.
Like many, Egyptian Twitter user Khaled Khalil accuses Israel of bullying when he read about the sabotaging of the Irish ship:
@Kh-Khalil: #Israel bullying RT @notmytribe: Irish MV Saoirse becomes 2nd victim of sabotage, cannot sail with Gaza Flotilla http://bit.ly/jrP7dh
Israel accuses the flotilla campaign, which attempts to breach its maritime blockade of Gaza, as a “clear political provocation.”
On Twitter, Tony Karon, from New York, quips:
@TonyKaron: Sure, Gaza flotilla is a provocation – mass non-violent civil disobedience of an unjust order. Dr King led plenty such provocations #fb
Tweets from the Irish Ship to Gaza can be found here.
Occupied Palestine shares the plight of Khaled Zawahre, who is detained in Ofer prison, allegedly for beating up an Israeli soldier and throwing rocks. Occupied Palestine maintains Khaled's innocence and shares photographs and videos.
This post is part of our special coverage Egypt Revolution 2011.
On May 28, 2011, Egypt opened the Rafah Crossing between it and the Gaza Strip, supposedly on a permanent basis. However, Palestinians soon discovered that Egypt was limiting the number of people who could pass through the crossing, and thousands were left waiting in frustration. A week later the crossing was closed again by the Egyptians, “due to renovations“.
Still living under an Israeli blockade, bloggers in Gaza are angry that the promised freedom of movement to Egypt has not materialized. Sameeha Elwan's mother has been waiting to go to Egypt for urgent medical treatment:
Everyone was very enthusiastic about the news of opening the only official border between the Gaza Strip and Egypt, I was not less enthusiastic. It was such a relief. Even with the restriction on the movement that took place only two days after the glorious news. It sounded a relief. But, it never does when you are one of the 400 other travelers who’d get turned back or who are denied access or those who have to wait. I understood how difficult it is to wait. How painful! How tortuous! But, we Palestinians seem to be destined for waiting.
At Sleepless in Gaza, Nader writes about visiting the crossing to see for himself:
June 2nd 2011 was the first time for me to ever see the border. On the gates, I was literally jumping out of excitement that I have finally seen what is the border like with my own eyes. There was security by the gate and this huge gate, and many people were outside waiting either for friends or relatives to arrive or waiting for some traveller who wants to get the bags carried to a taxi, as a way of breadwinning.
As I waited for over 20 minutes in the hot sun waiting for the guards to let me in, I witnessed how it is like to arrive for the first time in so many years. Hugging each other so hard, kissing each other’s cheeks. And what were heart-touching the most is the happy tears. I could feel a lot whenever I witness such scenes.
As we entered the gates, we took a taxi to take us to the departure hall, where I entered with total excitement. I look around and all I see is tired people with pale looks and hopelessness. It was 4 PM by then and the borders close at 6 PM. Kids, old men and women.
The people there were of almost all ranges of ages. I talked to a few of them asking them about what is happening and why are they still in the departure hall. Finally, I came up to the conclusion that the Egyptians don’t let more than 350-400 passengers pass a day.
Ola Anan writes:
النقطة التانية انو موضوع الترميم كله على بعضه مش منطقي !
The second point is that of the renovation; it’s completely illogical!
A fantastic video shot by a group of Palestinian activists exposing the realities of the much heralded opening of Rafah Crossing, which has been closed for the third day in a row.
Back to Sameeha Elwan, who concludes:
Last year, I was asked by a journalist whether I remember a time when there were no restriction over movement or when we were able to travel freely. It didn’t take me much time to answer with a “No”. I still remember how we used to celebrate my uncles by making them big banquets every time anyone of them would make it to Gaza in a day or two. While celebrating their victorious effortless 3-day journey of return, we would be chatting of the way the Egyptians, the Israelis and the Palestinians would each treat Palestinian travelers.
If I’d be asked the same question today, looking at the packed bags leaning along the room, I would still answer: No.
This post is part of our special coverage Egypt Revolution 2011.
Damascus Remains, Throbbing Wounds, Insanity of Poetry, Tears in her Hands, Sword's Caravan and many other poems and reflections on women, human beings, war, heroism and the world by Ibrahim Shakarneh from Nahalin village, in Palestine, can be found on his blog.
The post is part of our special coverage Egypt Revolution 2011.
Egypt opened its Rafah order crossing with the Gaza Strip today, allowing people to cross freely into Egypt for the first time in four years. The border, which is Gaza's main gateway to the outside world, was opened sporadically during the reign of former Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak. Following are some reactions from Twitter on this latest development.
Reporter Hannah Allam shares more details on Twitter:
restrictions on #rafah crossing: no palest. men betwn 18 and 40 w/out sp permit, students w/ proof of study in egypt ok, women all ages ok
#Rafah crossing is only available for passengers to pass through. Restrictions remain on the passing of goods.
About 350 people left Gaza through #Rafah crossing today.
Damdoma, from Gaza, can't believe the news:
Also, from Gaza, Ola Anan, shares similar sentiments. She tweets:
Palestinian Mahmoud Omar, who describes himself as a refugee in Cairo, is grateful to Egypt's revolution for making this possible:
شكرًا مصر, شعبًا وثورةً وكرامة #Egypt #Rafah
Egyptian blogger Alaa Abd El Fattah asks sarcastically:
هي اسرائيل هتحاربنا امتى؟ مش الناس قالت فتح المعبر هيخلي اسرائيل تحاربنا؟ و حماس هتبعت الارهابيين بتوعها يخربوا مصر امتى؟
and Mahmoud jokes:
The post is part of our special coverage Egypt Revolution 2011.
In the last few years, West Bank Palestinian villages have seen their land claimed both by Jewish settlements in the West Bank and by the security wall erected by Israel. In villages such as Nabi Saleh, Bi'lin and Ni'lin, village residents have responded by holding weekly non-violent protests.
Foreign Policy reports that these protests have proven to be a difficult challenge for the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) who consistently attempt to break up the protests and arrest demonstrators. The week after Hamas and Fatah inked their unity agreement was no exception.
Joseph Dana is a New York-born activist with Jewish roots who moved to Israel to pursue his Jewish heritage, and is now an activist regularly reporting on and joining protests in these West Bank villages. Dana reported on the evening of May 5, 2011:
Raids took place in Nabi Saleh last night. Unarmed demonstrations will take place tomorrow. I will be live tweeting from the ground.
The demonstrations, though, never started, preempted by IDF troop deployment:
Most of the village is still in the mosque. Soldiers have taken two houses in nabi saleh
The March 15th Palestine account also reported:
Army enforcing undeclared curfew in #Nabi Saleh. Tear-gas clouds cover the village and shot directly into houses. Caused a fire & an injury
Joseph Dana posted pictures of the tear gas clouds:
The soldiers beat the wife of bassem tamimi who was filming for btselem. They hit her and tried to destroy her camera in nabi saleh
Hours later, Dana indicated that soldiers were withdrawing:
Now it is finally over. With a hail of tear gas
~80 violent rioters in Bi'lin, ~40 in Ni'lin hurling rocks @ security forces responding w/riot dispersal means.
The PSCC (Palestinian Popular Struggle Coordination Committee) told it differently:
Soldiers arrested a 15 year-old during the demo in Bil'in. Still enforcing undeclared curfew in Nabi Saleh
And demonstrations also occured to Ni'lin:
Protesters banging on the metal gate in Ni'ilin demanding to access their lands. Soldiers shooting tear-gas
Mahmoud Zwahre, Arrested At Weekly Protest Against The Wall At Al Masara http://www.imemc.org/article/61189 #Palestine #Israel
Demonstrators also gathered in the Manara Square of Ramallah to celebrate this week's unity deal between rival factions Hamas and Fatah. The year after Hamas won elections in Gaza in 2006, it expelled Fatah from Gaza, and the two groups have had little interaction since. Beginning March 15, protesters in both Gaza, controlled by Hamas, and in the West Bank, controlled by Fatah, began demonstrating to demand national unity. Earlier in the week, Gaza celebrated the unity deal. The May 6th Ramallah demonstration was a continuation of Palestinian celebrations of the success of the March 15th movement and Palestinian unity.
Jalal, who describes himself as a Palestinian living between Jerusalem and Ramullah, saw the beginning of the demonstrations, which began with pro-Hamas supporters, and was later joined by Fatah and March 15th movement demonstrators. He tweeted:
Couple hundred hamas supporters in #ramallah waiting to be joined by their Fatah brothers
Jalal continued live from Manara Square:
Green and yellow banners raised in Ramallah now, but most importantly Palestinian national flags all over Manara! #herak #mar15
Jalal posted numerous pictures of the March 15th demonstrators:
Demonstrators were in Manara not just to celebrate, but also to press for transparent elections. Ashira Ramadan tweeted:
In #Ramallah now for the unity celebration and to call for fair direct PNC elections #Palestine #mar15
Follow Global Voices for continuing coverage.
News of the deal, which will unite the Gaza Strip, which had been under Hamas' control, and the West Bank, which was under the grip of the Fatah movement, was welcomed with celebrations in Gaza.
Here are some reactions from Twitter.
Omar Gaza reports:
Fire works in broad day light and till now sparkling in #Gaza sky celebrating the unity & #reconciliation
Lina, from Live from Gaza tweets:
Gaza is living the reconciliation euphoria #Hamas #fatah #Palestine
Mahmoud Al Kahlout, from Al Nasr City, Gaza, adds:
Division should go to hell forever #Gaza #WestBank #Fateh #Hamas #Palestine #PalUnity
Gaza medical student Fatma F.Q. says:
Congratulations to ALL PALESTINIAN for our UNITY #Mosala7a
and asks [ar]:
And Asmaa Al Ghoul reminds [ar] us:
But it seems that not everyone is happy.
On Hamas, Sam Halaby notes:
#Hamas: you're a headache. Maybe if you stopped giving #Israel every excuse to blockade you, like firing rockets, maybe you'd have peace.
Sarah, who tweets as @Jnobiyeh, adds:
Hamas didn't just sign a “unity” deal with collaborationist Fatah today, it signed the death certificate of its resistance to #Israel.
A survey (Ar) is available for Palestinian netizen to update their information, for the Amin Media Network. Questions on the survey include: location; age; blogging language; and favourite citizen media platform.
Long before the deadline set by his captors arrived, kidnapped Italian activist Vittorio Arrigoni was killed, apparently hanged. Bloggers in Gaza and elsewhere have reacted with disbelief, anger and sorrow.
Jared Malsin, who had met Arrigoni, writes:
I met Vittorio several times when I was in Gaza last year. I first met him when I accompanied him and several other activists to visit Palestinian families who had been injured in a series of Israeli airstrikes in the mid-Gaza area. He was a burley, bearded man, dressed in black and smiling wide. Talking politics the whole way, we shared the front seat of a van on the ride from Gaza City down to Deir Al-Balah. He had a tattoo of the word “resistance” (“muqawama”) in Arabic on the inside of his right arm.
He was a man who lived and died to express his solidarity with Palestinians. He was big-hearted and he was brave, twice participating in blockade-defying sea voyages to Gaza, three times jailed by Israel for his activism.
He embodied a certain spirit of the European anti-fascists of the 1930s and ’40s, who went to fight and die as partisans in Italy and Spain. “I come from a partisan family,” he once told an interviewer. “My grandfathers fought and died struggling against an occupation, another occupation. It was the Nazi-Fascist one. For this reason, probably, in my DNA, there are particles that push me to struggle.”
His murder is an outrage and an enormous tragedy.
Mohammed Rabah Suliman was friends with Arrigoni:
“Ween?” (the Arabic for “where”) was the first thing Vittorio ever asked me. He was looking for my phone number and sent me a FB message titled, “ween”. Today I ask him the same question: “ween?”
I can’t think of one reason that would make a “Palestinian” kill someone like Vittorio. A man who dedicated his life to fight injustice. A man who abandoned the luxury of Rome and came to one of the most turbulent regions in the world in order to expose Israeli atrocities committed against Palestinians. A man on whose right arm was big brilliant tattoo: resistance. A hero in whose eyes there was a whole lot of unmistakable meanings of profound love, loyalty, hope, sacrifice, truth and courage. Vittorio has done for Palestinians in Gaza and the West Bank more than those who killed him.
[…] Vittorio is a man who loved Gaza, he loved Gaza’s land, its sea, and its sky. Two things Vittorio obviously loved to do: to wave the Palestinian flag, and to sing “Onadikum” (I call upon you!). Wholeheartedly, Vittorio sang, “Onadikum” time and again. He poured his heart out as he sang it. It’s probably the only thing he could say so fluently in Arabic.
Now that you moved to live in our hearts, we’ll become stronger and fiercer in the battle against occupation, humiliation and injustice. Vittorio. Such an inspiration to all of us. You taught us that life isn’t worth living if one isn’t ready to fight against its injustice, and that’s what gives it a meaning, that’s what makes it all beautiful. Now, empowered by your “memory”, we’ll carry on the fight together.
Nazek Aburahma also remembers him, and she writes [ar]:
[…] ” فيكتور ” كان متحمسا وكان يلوح بيديه بعلامة النصر دائما ، والآن نلوح ورود الوداع على جثمانه ، ودموع العزاء لن تجف على جسده ، سيبقى حيا في ذهن كل حر كل فلسطيني كل انسان يتناصف أنفاس الحرية مع الآخر ، قتل “فكتور ” لكننا لن نغفر لمن قتلوه وستبقى دمائه معلقه في زاوية الآثام يتيمة حتى يعاقب من اقترف تلك الجريمة !..
لن ننساك ، ولن أنساك أبدا وستبقى فلسطين كهفا يلجأ اليه الأحرار على ترابها وان شطرت عروقنا عليها ، فحامل الرسالة اي كانت جنسيته ، ديانته يبقى مخلدا في التاريخ روحه وجسده لا يموتان ، رحمك الله يا صديق القضية والانسانية
I truly don’t know how to write what I want. A morning swathed in tears and dismay: I awoke to the news of the murder of one of the foreign solidarity activists in Gaza City. I knew him as “Victor”; with every encounter, I noticed in him the flame of love for Palestine in his eyes, and the Palestinian flag as his companion with his every step on the soil of the occupied land…
[…] Victor was passionate, always waving victory signs, and now we wave farewell flowers to his corpse. The tears of mourning will not dry on his body, they will remain alive in the minds of every free person, every Palestinian, every human who shares the breath of freedom with another. Victor was murdered, but we will not forgive those who killed him; his blood will remain on the wall of sins until those who committed this crime are punished!
Lina at Live From Gaza writes:
Vittorio Arrigoni was a very recognizable face in Gaza. I didn’t personally know him, but I came to know about his bravery from the documentary “To shoot an elephant”. Vittorio was one of the activists who stayed during operation “Cast Lead”. He was one of the voices which told the world about the brutality of the Israeli invasion.
Sadness and anger prevail over the murder of the Italian activist. Those who claimed responsibility for the abduction and murder of Vittorio call themselves Palestinians and Muslims. But Islam washes its hands from such brutal act. Moreover, International activists who visit Gaza have always felt the warmth of the Palestinian hospitality. This will never change, the only threat the Palestinians and these activists share is the threat of the Israeli occupation.
Also in Gaza, Omar Ghraieb gives an account of how the news of the kidnapping and murder unfolded, and ends:
Vittorio was Italian by birth but his dedication to Palestine and Gaza made him no less Palestinian than any other Palestinian, he came to Gaza many times and live here for a while. He endangered his life numerous times while working as a volunteer with the ISM (International Solidarity Movement) in Gaza when he was trying to protect farmers and fisherman, in addition to his participation in all buffer-zone protests.
Vittorio meant a lot for Palestinians, Gazans and his friends everywhere. He is a huge loss for us all, may he rest in peace.
Eva Bartlett worked with Arrigoni in Gaza:
I first heard of Vik before arriving in Gaza. Vik had just been injured by the IOF [Israel Occupation Forces/Israel Defense Forces] water canon attack which shattered the windows of the fishing boat he was accompanying. Vik had some injuries from the shattered glass. […] He was taken from Gaza, briefly, by the IOF navy, when they kidnapped 15 Palestinian fishermen and 3 accompanying activists, including Vik, in November 2008, from Palestinian waters. At the time of his abduction, he was electrically shocked while peacefully avoiding abduction by diving into Gaza’s cold waters.
Stay human, he always said. And so was the title of his book on the Israeli massacre of Gaza in 2008-2009. Stay human. […] During the Israeli war on Gaza, we all worked together, riding in ambulances, documenting the martyred and the wounded, the vast majority (over 83%) civilian. Vik was always on the phone, Italian media taking his words and printing them for the public to see. […] He was there to joke with us, to counsel us, to smoke shisha by the sea…He wrote the truth, spoke the truth, stayed human.
Another fellow activist, Ken O’Keefe, has made this video, with footage from the press conference announcing Arrigoni’s death.
Jeff Halper from the Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions knew Arrigoni well:
Vik was truly a person greater than life. He was so filled with energy, a mixture of joy, camaraderie and impatience with the confines of boats and prisons like Gaza, that he would suddenly lift you into the air, or wrestle with you – he was a big, strong, handsome guy, ebullient and smiling even in the most oppressive and dangerous situations – as if to tell you: Yalla! These Israel naval ships shooting at us and the Palestinian fisherman cannot prevail over our solidarity, outrage and the justice of our cause! (Vik was wounded in one of those confrontations). He would come up behind you and say: The Occupation will fall just like this! (and he would wrestle you to the ground, laughing and playing with you as he did).
Vik, who like me received Palestinian citizenship and a passport when we broke the siege of Gaza and sailed into Gaza port in August, 2008, was a peace-maker exemplar. […] Vik worked in the West Bank as well as Gaza, and was jailed three times before being expelled by Israel. But his peace work did not take the form of activism alone. Vik was a master of communication – physical, verbal, written (his blog, Guerrilla Radio, was one of the most popular in Italy) – and he mixed personal experiences, reportage and analysis effortlessly.
Vik was what we call a “witness”: someone who put himself physically with the oppressed and shared with them their triumphs, tragedies, sufferings and hopes. Yet he was one who through his actions tried to affect genuine change. […] I’ll miss you, man. But every time I feel tired or discouraged, I’ll feel you lifting me up over your head and, with your huge smile and laughter, threatening to throw me overboard if I even hesitate in throwing myself into the fight. You were and are the earth-force of the struggle against injustice.
Global Voices contributor Asteris Masouras has aggregated tweets about this news on Storify which you can find here.