After appeals by Hamas to release abducted Italian activist Vittorio Arrigoni, the Islamist captors sympathetic to Al Qaeda murdered him, an action that, coupled with ongoing rocket fire from Gaza, may signal a weaker Hamas.
In the wake of ongoing rocket attacks against Israel from the besieged Palestinian Gaza strip, and with the discovery of the body of Italian activist Vittorio Arrigoni who was killed at the hands of Islamist militants operating in Gaza, it appears that Hamas may be losing control of the volatile Palestinian territory.
Reuters reported on Friday that Italian activist Vittorio Arrigoni appeared to have been strangled to death by his Islamist abductors. The murder prompted immediate concerns over Hamas' inability to broker Arrigoni's safe return.
"Gaza is safe and I want to assure all visitors to Gaza that they are safe and secure," Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh said, according to Reuters. "The crime that took place was an isolated incident ... and we will enforce the law against the perpetrators."
However, Arrigoni's murder was announced during what appears to be a defiance of a Hamas ceasefire order governing rocket attacks on Israeli targets.
The ceasefire was put in place last weekend after 19 Palestinians were killed in retaliatory Israeli air strikes on targets in Gaza. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu promised a "most harsh" response should the rocket attacks continue, as Digital Journal reported, and it was revealed that a secondary and more militant group, called the At Tawhid and Al Jihad Beit Al-Maqdis, appeared to be operating independently of Hamas.
After more rockets were launched into Israel on Friday, additional Israeli air strikes were called in to strike locations across Gaza, as AFP reported.
While no one was hurt in either attack, the initial rocket volley from Gaza underscores the concern of an ungoverned and restive Palestinian territory in the face of what appeared to be a Hamas-oriented ceasefire. Additionally, the execution of Mr. Arrigoni may very well signal to the international community that another faction may be emerging in Gaza, one that is significantly less tolerant.