Abbas Honors Slain Israeli and Italian Activists

Haaretz Service
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Haaretz Service

President Mahmoud Abbas posthumously honored Juliano Mer-Khamis, Israeli actor and political advocate, and Vittorio Arrigoni, Italian Palestinian rights activist, bestowing them with the 'Medal of Jerusalem' award, Palestinian Wafa news agency reported Sunday.

The Palestinian president awarded the medal to 'martyrs' Mer-Khamis and Arrigoni, the news agency reported, in the condolence tent set up by his movement, Fatah, in the West Bank city of Ramallah.

Juliano Mer-Khamis in Tel Aviv, March 29, 2006. Credit: Daniel Tchetchik

Abbas said that crediting both martyrs the honoring Medal of Jerusalem, is the least expression of gratitude for their efforts in serving the Palestinian cause," the Wafa report said.

The Palestinian president made clear that the assassination of the two activists does not reflect the traditions, habits and morals of the Palestinian people and all humans."

Mer-Khamis, a 52-year-old known for both his film and theater roles who was born in the north Israel Arab town of Nazereth, was was shot dead earlier this month outside a theater he founded in a refugee camp in the West Bank city of Jenin.

Arrigoni, a 36-year-old Italian peace activist for the International Solidarity Movement (ISM) was abducted and killed 10 days later by Islamist militants in Gaza. The kidnappers were members of the Monotheism and Holy War group who released a video threatening to execute the hostage is Hamas did not free its leader, whom they arrested in March.

Hamas surrounded the compound in which Arrigoni was held, only to find the activist had been hung, reportedly hours after he was kidnapped.

The condolence tent where the medals were awarded was set up near Yasser Arafat's grave, the Palestinian news agency reported. Attendance was high at the ceremony, with members of Palestinian factions and the Legislative Council, human rights activists, Palestinian officials and citizens coming to pay their respects.