The Palestinian resistance movement of Hamas has condemned the murder of an Italian activist in the Gaza Strip, describing the killing as a "heinous crime."
Vittorio Arrigoni, a pro-Palestinian activist, was found hanged in an abandoned house north of Gaza City hours after being abducted on Thursday by a radical group.
"We in the Palestinian government express our condolences to the Italian people and government for the killing of the Italian activist, and offer our condolences to his family and friends. We value his role and the international solidarity movement’s role to support the Palestinian issue", Gaza Strip’s democratically- elected Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh said on Friday.
A radical group calling itself Monotheism and Holy War posted a video on You Tube on Thursday showing Arrigoni blindfolded, threatening to execute the Italian activist by 1400 GMT on Friday unless Hamas frees several members of the group, including their leader, Sheikh Abu Walid al-Maqdasi.
According to the Hamas interior ministry, Arrigoni was killed even before the given deadline and soon after being abducted.
Despite the existence of the video, the group released a statement on Friday denying involvement in Arrigoni’s death.
Hamas officials say two people have been arrested in connection with the murder.
Interior ministry spokesman Ehab al-Ghussein has vowed to hunt down and bring to justice all those who were involved in the killing.
The killing "has nothing to do with our values, our religion, our customs and traditions," al-Ghussein said.
Hundreds of Palestinians in Gaza attended a protest rally condemning Arrigoni’s killing.