Gazans on Friday held a candlelit vigil for pro-Palestinian activist Vittorio Arrigoni killed by an Al-Qaeda-linked Salafist group.
The Italian was found strangled in a Gaza City apartment earlier that morning. Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh condemned Arrigoni’s kidnapping and killing.
“The Palestinian government, on behalf of the Palestinian people, strongly condemns this crime, which does not represent the values, morals and religion of this people,” said Haniyeh.
“The government expresses its condolences to the Italian government and people, the family and loves ones of the Italian activist.”
Unity and Jihad, a Gaza-based Salafist organisation, has denied any involvement in the 36-year-old’s killing.
But in a video statement, the group called his death was “the natural result” of the Hamas government’s “repressive policy against Salafists.”
The kidnappers identified themselves as members of the previously unknown Brigade of the Gallant Companion of the Prophet Mohammed bin Muslima.
They had said Arrigoni would die unless Hamas freed a unspecified number of jailed Salafists , including Unity and Jihad leader Hisham al-Saedini by 1600 CET on Friday.
Salafist groups are known for their strict interpretation of the Koran and want to create an Islamic State governed by Sharia.