Julie Webb-Pullman reports

Vittorio Arrigoni Commemoration in Gaza: “I am a diamond, and you cannot break me.”

On April 15 a group of Palestinians, Italians, and an assortment of other nationalities bussed down to Khan Younis to honour Vittorio Arrigoni, an Italian activist murdered on this day in Gaza three years ago. Vik, as he was popularly known, was widely loved and respected by the farmers and fishermen whom he accompanied to deter Israeli attacks against them during their work, as well as by the many he helped during Operation Cast Lead.

Arriving at the home of a farmer who worked with Vik, the group was led to a memorial erected in his honour in the front garden of the farmhouse, surrounded with palms and plants, and adorned with posters and Palestinian flags.

Memorial to Vittorio Arrigoni on Khan Younis farm

Memorial to Vittorio Arrigoni on Khan Younis farm

Khalil Shaheen, Director of the Palestinian Center for Human Rights’ Economic and Social Rights’ Unit, opened the ceremony by saying that the event proves that all in attendance, whether Palestinians or internationals, have the same purpose as Vik – to support Palestine.

“Our motto is, always has been, and always will be ‘Let us hope, and let us stay human,” he said. “That is all the farmers and fishermen are struggling for.”

He added that they will not allow any extreme behaviour from anyone to stand in the way of the path that Vik was following.

Young girls then recited poems dedicated to Vik, saying that despite his death he is still alive in spirit to them and to all in Gaza, entreating his mother not to cry, because crying kills the heart. “He kissed the earth of Palestine,” one said, “he risked his life for its children, and they will never forget him.”

Another summed up Vik’s legacy by addressing his killers, saying, “I am a diamond, and you cannot break me.”

The group then planted an olive tree they had brought as a living legacy, before going on to hold other commemorative events in other parts of Gaza, culminating in a candle-light vigil at the Gaza seaport.

Italians and Palestinians join forces to plant the olive tree

Italians and Palestinians join forces to plant the olive tree

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