Arrigoni, Mer-Khamis to receive Jerusalem honors

April 24, 2011

RAMALLAH (Ma’an) — President Mahmoud Abbas announced Sunday that he would present murdered Italian activist Vittorio Arrigoni and slain Freedom Theater Director Juliano Mer-Kamis with the Jerusalem Medal of Honor.

Family members of both men would be presented with the medals when Arrigoni’s mother visits Palestine, Abbas said.

As mourners gathered in Ramallah and Gaza City to pay tribute to Arrigoni as he was buried in Milan barely two weeks after friends and family laid Mer-Khamis to rest in Israel, Abbas spoke at the Tomb of Arafat in the West Bank’s de facto capital, calling both murders “sinful, committed by criminal hands.”

“Honoring these two martyrs is the least we can do to acknowledge the efforts they made to serve Palestinians. We send our condolences to their families, and to the Palestinian people, who were also their family,” Abbas told those gathered for a memorial service by the office of the President and Fatah’s Foreign Relations committee.

Vittorio, allegedly killed by three men in Gaza City who claimed to be part of a Salafist fringe group – two of who were shot and killed during an arrest campaign – “came to Palestine to sympathize with the Palestinian people. He dedicated his life to serve them as he lived in Gaza under dire conditions,” Abbas eulogized.

“The hands that killed him do not represent that hands of the Palestinian people, those hands are not even human. This man came to us full of life, vigor, and energy, and he was returned to his family a dead body,” he apologized.

Abbas reiterated the PA’s condemnation of the murders of both Arrigoni and Mer-Khamis asserting that both victims were killed in service of the Palestinian people and would be recognized as “martyrs.”

Investigations continue in Jenin, where Mer-Khamis was gunned down in front of the Freedom Theater, which he resurrected after the project his mother – Jewish-Israeli activist Arna Mer – fell into disuse during the Second Intifada.

Members of the staff of Italy’s consulate were in attendance.


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