Vittorio's tattoo on his arm: moqawama (resistance)
Diary of Mohammed Suliman
Mohammed Suliman is a Palestinian student in Gaza who shall be keeping an online diary to provide readers with a personal view on the illegal Israeli siege on Gaza.
26th April 2011
From the Place He Loved: in Memory of Vittorio
Vittorio: (Vik, Victor, Victorio. Full name: Vittorio Utopia Arrigoni) a Palestinian martyr, only a bit braver, who was abducted and gruesomely killed at the hands of an Israeli-salafist gang on 14 April 2011. Later it happened that he was not dead: he was still living in the hearts of all Palestinians.
"Ween?" (the Arabic for "where") was the first thing Vittorio ever asked me. He was looking for my phone number and sent me a FB message titled, “ween”. Today I ask him the same question: "ween?"
I can’t think of one reason that would make a “Palestinian” kill someone like Vittorio. A man who dedicated his life to fight injustice. A man who abandoned the luxury of Rome and came to one of the most turbulent regions in the world in order to expose Israeli atrocities committed against Palestinians. A man on whose right arm, the Arabic word for resistance "Moqawama" was brilliantly tattooed in big words. A hero in whose eyes there was a whole lot of unmistakable meanings of profound love, loyalty, hope, sacrifice, truth and courage. Vittorio has done for Palestinians in Gaza and the West Bank more than those who killed him. He was more Palestinian than many other Palestinians. Vittorio would have competed with Hamas rockets about who's done more damage to Israel. He was such a nightmare for them that needed to be eliminated. Vittorio is a great disheartening loss to Palestinians, and Friday, 15 April is such an overwhelmingly melancholic day in the history of Palestine.
Vittorio is a man who loved Gaza, he loved Gaza's land, its sea, and its sky. Two things Vittorio obviously loved to do: to wave the Palestinian flag, and to sing “Onadikum” (I call upon you!). Wholeheartedly, Vittorio sang, “Onadikum” time and again. He poured his heart out as he sang it. It’s probably the only thing he could say so fluently in Arabic.
Today, as we took to the streets to tell the world how grieved we are at the loss of Vittorio, to convey a message to Vittorio’s family in Italy that in Gaza we are all his family. We condemn in the strongest terms the shameful and outrageous act of abducting and murdering Vittorio by a bunch of criminals whom we disavowed the moment they had that vicious thought in their minds. We will not forgive those who betrayed Vittorio in the place he loved, the place where he felt most secure, where he would be angry to be treated like a foreigner. He warmly embraced our cause, so we will never stab him in the back. We’ll give him a warmer hug.
Today, though ridiculous I only wished Vittorio were alive to live this very day with us and see with his own eyes how much we all love him. We are all Vittorios.
Now that you moved to live in our hearts, we’ll become stronger and fiercer in the battle against occupation, humiliation and injustice. Vittorio. Such an inspiration to all of us. You taught us that life isn’t worth living if one isn’t ready to fight against its injustice, and that’s what gives it a meaning, that's what makes it all beautiful. Now, empowered by your “memory”, we’ll carry on the fight together.
Vittorio wanted to fight injustice, but life was too unjust for him to fight.
"The injustice of it [life] is almost perfect! The wrong people going hungry, the wrong people being loved, the wrong people dying!" John Osborne.
Vittorio is one of the wrong people.
In memory of Vittorio Utopia Arrigoni
21st March 2011
One Night of Bombing
I’m lying. There are two actually. Earlier, I tweeted, “I was lying all the time. I used to say I got used to it, you actually never get used to being bombed by F-16s!”
It was but another night penetrated with the brain-wracking constant droning mixed with the sounds of a slight rainfall. I didn’t bother, however, and continued my nightly chores, indifferent to the omnipresent presages of an “unappealing night”. Time and time again, I was told this was going to be a hellish night due to the last bombing that took place in Jerusalem.
One would wonder what Palestinians in Gaza would have to do with a bombing that took place in Jerusalem. But to someone like me, and to Palestinians in Gaza, I’ll just borrow the words of another Palestinian, “If someone caught flu in Tel Aviv, we, Palestinians in Gaza, were to blame. We would have to bear the consequences!”
A few reports say this as part of a larger Israeli political conspiracy to relieve the ever amounting pressure they are put under by provoking Hamas into firing rockets onto Israel and showing themselves as the victim. Some say it is a desperate attempt to end any Palestinian effort to end the disunity between the two largest Palestinian factions, Hamas and Fatah. Israeli media, however, report these attacks are just retaliatory. I’d try to understand if it were retaliatory, but it is Israel that started all of this mayhem.
I didn’t care, and whatever were the reasons behind this would-be hellish night, I didn’t bother for myself. I thought that I got used to it. But I kept tweeting and providing latest updates whenever the droning increased or lowered. Someone told me, “your obsession with the unmanned drones inspires me.” He thought it’s an obsession, but it’s not. It’s some mechanism to release myself from this nerve-wracking noise, which at some point, would seem eternal.
But it was not. Soon enough the droning ceased. The rain stopped falling. It was all quiet, and I started to feel worried.
A friend tweeted, “this must be quiet which precedes the storm!” I knew It was. So everyone was soon getting ready and preparing himself, psychologically and emotionally in case the bomb fell in his neighborhood. I was soon trying to envisage the bombing in my mind before it fell for real. Waiting for a bomb is far more torturing that the bomb itself.
A few minutes later, we started to call for ending this state of dreadful quiet by sending the drones back “People want the drones BACK! ” I tweeted.
We waited and waited, but no bombs fell at all. We started to feel extremely apprehensive about what’s going on! Had we been bombed, things would have seemed normal.
After what seemed to be ages, and as if conforming to our demands, F-16s and Apaches started flying in Gaza sky only to simultaneously start shelling various areas across the Gaza Strip. Once an F-16 shows up, a bomb follows. One doesn’t even have time to ponder its horrific blasting sound. A few were injured, two of them were children.
The night was up, and I went to bed.
The next night, at an unguarded moment, the nearby area was heavily bombarded by five F-16 bombs. I wasn’t prepared. I never thought it would come this early. As each bomb fell, the whole building shook back and forth, my heart dropped, and I cursed. The five bombs having fallen, I felt like screaming my heart out like a child. I felt as if I wanted to be as simple a little boy pouring out his heart to his mother, “Mom, I hate Israel!” But I kept silent and continued my nightly chores.