Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Israel Attacks Justice Boat, Kidnaps Human Rights Workers, Confiscates Medicine, Toys and Olive Trees

From the Free Gaza movement (see previous post) -


For more information contact:Greta Berlin (English) tel: +357 99 081 767 / friends@freegaza.org
Caoimhe Butterly (Arabic/English/Spanish): tel: +357 99 077 820 / sahara78@hotmail.co.uk http://www.freegaza.org/

[23 miles off the coast of Gaza, 15:30pm] - Today Israeli Occupation Forces attacked and boarded the Free Gaza Movement boat, the SPIRIT OF HUMANITY, abducting 21 human rights workers from 11 countries, including Noble laureate Mairead Maguire and former U.S. Congresswoman Cynthia McKinney (see below for a complete list of passengers). The passengers and crew are being forcibly dragged toward Israel.

“This is an outrageous violation of international law against us. Our boat was not in Israeli waters, and we were on a human rights mission to the Gaza Strip,” said Cynthia McKinney, a former U.S. Congresswoman and presidential candidate. “President Obama just told Israel to let in humanitarian and reconstruction supplies, and that’s exactly what we tried to do. We're asking the international community to demand our release so we can resume our journey.”
According to an International Committee of the Red Cross report released yesterday, the Palestinians living in Gaza are “trapped in despair.” Thousands of Gazans whose homes were destroyed earlier during Israel’s December/January massacre are still without shelter despite pledges of almost $4.5 billion in aid, because Israel refuses to allow cement and other building material into the Gaza Strip. The report also notes that hospitals are struggling to meet the needs of their patients due to Israel’s disruption of medical supplies.

“The aid we were carrying is a symbol of hope for the people of Gaza, hope that the sea route would open for them, and they would be able to transport their own materials to begin to reconstruct the schools, hospitals and thousands of homes destroyed during the onslaught of "Cast Lead”. Our mission is a gesture to the people of Gaza that we stand by them and that they are not alone" said fellow passenger Mairead Maguire, winner of a Noble Peace Prize for her work in Northern Ireland.

Just before being kidnapped by Israel, Huwaida Arraf, Free Gaza Movement chairperson and delegation co-coordinator on this voyage, stated that: “No one could possibly believe that our small boat constitutes any sort of threat to Israel. We carry medical and reconstruction supplies, and children’s toys. Our passengers include a Nobel peace prize laureate and a former U.S. congressperson. Our boat was searched and received a security clearance by Cypriot Port Authorities before we departed, and at no time did we ever approach Israeli waters.”0AArraf continued, “Israel’s deliberate and premeditated attack on our unarmed boat is a clear violation of international law and we demand our immediate and unconditional release.”



CONTACT the Israeli Ministry of Justicetel: +972 2646 6666 or +972 2646 6340fax: +972 2646 6357

CONTACT the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairstel: +972 2530 3111fax: +972 2530 3367

CONTACT Mark Regev in the Prime Minister's office at:tel: +972 5 0620 3264 or +972 2670 5354mailto:5354mark.regev@it.pmo.gov.il

CONTACT the International Committee of the Red Cross to ask for their assistance in establishing the wellbeing of the kidnapped human rights workers and help in securing their immediate release!

Red Cross Israeltel: +972 3524 5286fax: +972 3527 0370tel_aviv.tel@icrc.org
Red Cross Switzerland:tel: +41 22 730 3443fax: +41 22 734 8280
Red Cross USA: tel: +1 212 599 6021fax: +1 212 599 6009


Kidnapped Passengers from the Spirit of Humanity include:

Khalad Abdelkader, Bahrain Khalad is an engineer representing the Islamic Charitable Association of Bahrain.

Othman Abufalah, Jordan Othman is a world-renowned journalist with al-Jazeera TV.

Khaled Al-Shenoo, Bahrain Khaled is a lecturer with the University of Bahrain.

Mansour Al-Abi, Yemen Mansour is a cameraman with Al-Jazeera TV.

Fatima Al-Attawi, Bahrain Fatima is a relief=2 0worker and community activist from Bahrain.

Juhaina Alqaed, Bahrain Juhaina is a journalist & human rights activist.

Huwaida Arraf, US Huwaida is the Chair of the Free Gaza Movement and delegation co-coordinator for this voyage.

Ishmahil Blagrove, UK Ishmahil is a Jamaican-born journalist, documentary film maker and founder of the Rice & Peas film production company. His documentaries focus on international struggles for social justice.

Kaltham Ghloom, Bahrain Kaltham is a community activist.

Derek Graham, Ireland Derek Graham is an electrician, Free Gaza organizer, and first mate aboard the Spirit of Humanity.

Alex Harrison, UK Alex is a solidarity worker from Britain. She is traveling to Gaza to do long-term human rights monitoring.

Denis Healey, UK Denis is Captain of the Spirit of Humanity. This will be his fifth voyage to Gaza.

Fathi Jaouadi, UK Fathi is a British journalist, Free Gaza organizer, and delegation co-coordinator for this voyage.

Mairead Maguire, Ireland Mairead is a Nobel laureate and renowned peace activist.

Lubna Masarwa, Palestine/Israel Lubna is a Palestinian human rights activist and Free Gaza organizer.

Theresa McDermott, Scotland Theresa is a solidarity worker from Scotland. She is traveling to Gaza to do long-term human rights monitoring.

Cynthia McKinney, US Cynthia McKinney is an outspoken advocate for human rights and social justice issues, as well as a=2 0former U.S. congressperson and presidential candidate.

Adnan Mormesh, UK Adnan is a solidarity worker from Britain. He is traveling to Gaza to do long-term human rights monitoring.

Adam Qvist, Denmark Adam is a solidarity worker from Denmark. He is traveling to Gaza to do human rights monitoring.

Adam Shapiro, US Adam is an American documentary film maker and human rights activist.

Kathy Sheetz, USKathy is a nurse and film maker, traveling to Gaza to do human rights monitoring.


Thursday, June 25, 2009

Free Gaza ships to sail - posponed a day

Some stories about why the participants are making this potentially dangerous voyage:

(Larnaca, 24 June 2009) As the Free Gaza Movement gets ready to set sail on our eighth mission, many of our passengers are reflecting about why we are sailing to besieged Gaza.

Ahmed is returning to his home in Gaza. Israeli occupying forces will not allow him to see his mum. “I have tried to go home for six years, six years I have not been allowed to see my mother, and she is terribly ill. This is my chance to go home. I must go home.”

Sixteen nations are represented on this voyage. Many of us have traveled thousands of miles to show the world that we will not stand by while the Palestinians of Gaza continue to be violated. Read more.....

Watch a video about the group--meet the peace activists who are sailing and hear their stories: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KH1n_8U9Xkg

Thursday's sailing postponed because of fears on the part of the Cypriot authorities

(25 June 2009, LARNACA)--...We had hoped to announce that our two ships, the Free Gaza and the Spirit of Humanity, departed from Larnaca Port on a 30-hour voyage to besieged Gaza, carrying human rights activists who have travelled to Cyprus from all across the world for this journey, 3 tons of medical supplies, and 15 tons of badly needed concrete and reconstruction supplies.

Nobel peace laureate Mairead Maguire, returning for her second trip to Gaza aboard one of our ships, said "[The people of Gaza] must know that we have not and will not forget them."
That was our hope, but that is not what happened.

Instead, our ships were not given permission to leave today due to concerns about our welfare and safety. Our friends in Cyprus tell us that the voyage to Gaza is too dangerous, and they are worried we will be harmed at sea. Read more...

Monday, June 22, 2009

Food for Gazans: how the occupation works

The suffering continues in Gaza. An article in the Israeli newspaper Ha'aretz last week tells about the process by which Israeli securit forces restrict the goods that are allowed into Gaza. It is clear the embargo of goods continues and that the people of Gaza continue to suffer because their needs for food are subordinate to other considerations, like Israeli growers' needs, the stabilization of market prices for food in the Israeli towns north of Gaza, and on and on. In the article, the Israeli rationale for the restrictions is connected to the imprisonment of Gilad Shalit, the soldier detained by Hamas in a cross-border raid from Gaza in 2006, and held hostage ever since. Gilad Shalit must be released, but it is important to remember that, while Hamas holds one Israeli prisoner, 7669 Palestinians are imprisoned in Israeli jails, 449 of these held under adminsitrative detention, held without charges, deemed to be a threat to Israel's security (like the people held at Guantanamo). One of the 449 administrative detainees is the brother of a woman I met in Jayyous, Ghassan Knaled, professor of law at the univeristy in Nablus. Read his story in one of my previous posts.

Bribes are also an important part of the decision-making when goods are allowed or banned from Gaza. Read the article: http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/1092186.html.

This week the Free Gaza movement is sending more boats bringing humanitarian aid to break the continuing blockade of Gaza. Read about their work and support them: http://www.freegaza.org/ .