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      Hamas Blames Israel for ISM Activist's Murder in Gaza

      Hamas blames Israel for the murder of Italian ISM activist Vittorio Arrigoni; says it was intended to scuttle the planned Gaza flottila.
      By Gabe Kahn.
      First Publish: 4/15/2011, 3:38 PM / Last Update: 4/15/2011, 3:54 PM

      Flash 90

      Islamic organizations and terror groups in Gaza rushed to distance themselves from the murder-kidnapping of Italian ISM activist Vittorio Arrigoni.

      Islamic terrorist organizations in Gaza decried the murder of Italian ISM activist Vittoria Arrigoni, who was kidnapped on Thursday. Arrigoni was found dead early Friday morning in the Strip.

      Among those groups denouncing the murder was none other than Tawhid wal-Jihad, the al-Qaida-linked group who initially claimed responsibility for Arrigoni's kidnapping. Tawhid wal-Jihad said they were holding an Italian national and said they would only release him if their leader, held in Hamas custody, was released.

      Hamas security personnel found Arrigoni's body in an abandoned house in Gaza following his abduction by 'militants,' a Hamas official said on Friday.

      Two men were arrested and others were being sought in relation to Arrigoni's murder, the official added

      Hamas condemned the murder and characterized it as "a shameful act, contrary to the tradition of the Palestinian people."

      Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhoum said, "the goal of this depraved band of outlaws is to spread chaos and anarchy in the Gaza Strip, a desperate attempt to strike at the stable security situation."

      Barhoum claimed the kidnapping and murder of Arrigoni was intended to scuttle the next Gaza flotilla, expected to depart next month. Barhoum explained that he believed the murder was meant to dissuade other foreign activists from arriving in the Strip.

      In that vein, the Hamas spokesman accused Israel of perpetrating the murder noting Arrigoni had been a vocal opponent of Israel's policies in Gaza, and frequently blogged about 'Israeli crimes against Palestinians' equating Israeli policies to 'Nazi' crimes. Arrigoni had also been arrested twice by Israeli authorities, Barhoum alleged.

      Accusing Israel of acts perpetrated by the terrorist groups themselves is a time-honored tradition among Arab terror leaders in Israel.

      Tawhid wal-Jihad, a Jihadist Salafi group in Gaza, had threatened on Thursday to execute Arrigoni by 5 p.m. local time (2 p.m. GMT) unless their demands were met.