NUSSEIRAT, Gaza Strip — An Al Qaeda-inspired militant implicated in the death of an Italian activist killed himself and an associate as Hamas security forces stormed his Gaza hideout yesterday.
The surviving member of the militant trio believed to have kidnapped and killed pro-Palestinian activist Vittorio Arrigoni was arrested by Hamas forces who captured the house after a fierce firefight, said Hamas security spokesman Ihab Ghussein.
As Hamas forces closed in, the group’s ringleader, Abdel-Rahman Mohammad Breizat, a Jordanian, threw grenades at his two accomplices and then shot himself rather than be taken alive.
Hamas forces had surrounded the hideout earlier in the day as part of a manhunt for the killers of Arrigoni — an activist living in Gaza since 2008 helping local Palestinians. The 36-year-old’s body was found on Friday, a day after he was kidnapped and after a video showing him beaten and blindfolded surfaced online.
Three members of the Hamas police force were wounded in the gunfight along with a girl, caught in the crossfire.
Several relatives of the gunmen as well as a known Salafist preacher arrived at the scene to plead with the suspects to surrender.
After a few hours, Hamas said mediation attempts collapsed and shooting erupted anew. Hamas then banned media from reporting and ordered them away from the scene.