Israel Kidnaps Congresswoman, Activists
- Israel's Seizes Humanitarian Aid Ship on Route to Gaza
Action Alert : Click Below to Contact Represenatives
Washington, DC | June 30, 2009 |
The American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC) condemns the Israeli naval commandeering of a ship carrying humanitarian supplies to the besieged territory of Gaza. The ship, which left from the Cypirot port of Larnaca, was approximately 20 miles off the coast of Gaza when it was board by Israeli Navy personnel and redirected to the city of Ashdod.
The ship was flying a Greek flag and traveled through international waters but was stopped during their approach to the occupied Gaza Strip. The "Spirit of Humanity" is crewed by a number of humanitarian activists from across the globe including former Congresswoman Cynthia Mckinney and Nobel Laureate Mairead Maguire. Reports indicate that all of the ship's 21 crew members have been taken into custody by Israel.
The siege of the Gaza Strip has continued unabated for over two years and badly needed reconstruction aid has been prevented from entering the Strip after the 22-day war on Gaza this past winter. Recently, President Obama called for humanitarian supplies to be permitted to enter the Gaza Strip and a number of members of Congress have traveled to the Strip and remarked on the dire circumstances facing the impoverished civilian population.
ADC echoes the calls of President Obama and others who have called for an end to the inhumane siege of the Gaza Strip, the immediate release of the human rights activists who were aboard the ship, and stern repercussions for the flagrant and continuing Israeli violations of international law.
You can take a moment to send a note to your member of Congress and President Obama demanding the release of the crew members of the "Spirit of Humanity" and an end to the siege by clicking here: Tell Your Representatives to End the Siege of Gaza Now!
CLICK HERE TO SEND A MESSAGE TO YOUR REPRESENATIVES DEMANDING AN END TO THE SIEGE AND RELEASE OF THE HUMAN RIGHTS ACTIVISTS HELD BY ISRAEL
Free Gaza link down at the moment
ISRAEL ATTACKS JUSTICE BOAT; KIDNAPS HUMAN RIGHTS WORKERS; CONFISCATES MEDICINE, TOYS AND OLIVE TREES
Tuesday, 30 June 2009 14:28
Written by Free Gaza Team
[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
Arraf 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."
WHAT YOU CAN DO!
CONTACT the Israeli Ministry of Justice
tel: +972 2646 6666 or +972 2646 6340
fax: +972 2646 6357
CONTACT the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs
tel: +972 2530 3111
fax: +972 2530 3367
CONTACT Mark Regev in the Prime Minister's office at:
tel: +972 5 0620 3264 or +972 2670 5354
tel: +357 99 077 820 / sahara78@...
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 Israel
tel: +972 3524 5286
fax: +972 3527 0370
Red Cross Switzerland:
tel: +41 22 730 3443
fax: +41 22 734 8280
Red Cross USA:
tel: +1 212 599 6021
fax: +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 worker 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
McKinney is an outspoken advocate for human rights and social justice
issues, as well as a former U.S. congressperson and presidential
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, US
Kathy is a nurse and film maker, traveling to Gaza to do human rights monitoring.
We have confirmed reports from al-Jazeera that Israeli Occupying Forces have stopped and boarded the Spirit of Humanity. We're not sure if our folks are being arrested yet or not.
More to follow...
CALL & FAX the Israeli Navy at:
tel: +972 3737 7777 or +972 3737 6242
fax: +972 3737 6123 or +972 3737 7175
CALL Mark Regev in the Prime Minister's office at:
+972 2670 5354 or +972 5 0620 3264
CALL Shlomo Dror in the Ministry of Defence at:
+972 33697 5339 or +972 50629 8148
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
30 JUNE 2009
"ALL WE WANT IS TO REACH GAZA. WE DO NOT SEEK A CONFRONTATION."
Activists aboard Gaza justice boat demand they be allowed to visit their friends & family in besieged Gaza, and deliver their cargo of medical supplies, children's toys, and reconstruction kits. They invite the world to join them.
(At Sea, 60km off the coast of the Gaza Strip) - Human Rights activists aboard the Free Gaza ship, the SPIRIT OF HUMANITY, today demanded that the Israeli Navy immediately stop threatening them.
"This aid is desperately needed by the people of Gaza," said Mairead Maguire, winner of the Noble Peace Prize and Pacem in Terris Award for her work in Northern Ireland. "President Obama has called upon the Palestinians to abandon violence but Israel is denying them the right to non-violently resist the siege of Gaza."
The unarmed justice ship departed Larnaca Port in Cyprus at 7:30am Monday with its crew of 21 human rights activists, humanitarian workers and journalists from 11 different countries, including Nobel laureate Mairead Maguire and former U.S. Congresswoman Cynthia McKinney. The boat, a converted ferry, hopes to arrive in Gaza Tuesday afternoon, following a grueling 30 hour sea voyage.
At 1:30am, Israeli warships surrounded the small civilian boat and threatened to open fire if they did not turn around. When the activists refused to be intimidated, Israeli Occupation Forces began jamming their instrumentation, blocking their GPS, radar, and navigation systems. This jamming was in direct violation of international maritime law, threatening the welfare and safety of the civilian ship.
Responding to this intimidation, Congresswoman McKinney declared, "I am extremely angry. We demand that the Israeli government call off their attack dogs. We are unarmed civilians aboard an unarmed boat delivering medical and reconstruction aid to other human beings in Gaza. Why in God's name would Israel want to attack us?"
Huwaida Arraf, Chairperson of the Free Gaza movement and delegation co-coordinator for this voyage, said, "All we want is to reach Gaza. We want to visit our friends and deliver our cargo of medical supplies, children's toys, and reconstruction materials. Our ship was searched and received security clearance from the Port Authorities in Cyprus before we departed."
Arraf continued, "We do not seek a confrontation. We have traveled from Cypriot waters to international waters and will enter Gazan waters. We've never gone anywhere near Israel. Israel's closure of Gaza is an act of collective punishment and a blatant violation of international law. We call upon our governments to take action to uphold their obligations under the Fourth Geneva Conventions. If they won't or until they do, we will act. We will come to Gaza again and again until this brutal siege is broken. We invite the good people of the world to join us."
Free Gaza boats are the first international ships in 41 years to sail to the Gaza Strip. Since August 2008, the Free Gaza Movement has organized 8 sea missions, successfully arriving to Gaza on 5 separate occasions. One two earlier occasions, Israeli Occupation Forces used violence to stop the ships, physically ramming and almost sinking the DIGNITY boat in December 2008, and threatening to fire on and kill unarmed passengers in January 2008. The fate of this, the eighth mission to Gaza, is still uncertain.
For more information, please contact:
Greta Berlin (English/French) or Caoimhe Butterly (English/Arabic/Spanish) at 00357 99 081 767 / friends@...
WHAT YOU CAN DO!
CALL or FAX Major Liebovitz from the Israeli Navy at:
Tel + 972 5 781 86248 or +972 3737 7777 or +972 3737 6242
Fax +972 3737 6123 or +972 3737 7175
CALL Mark Regev in the Prime Minister's office at:
Tel +972 2670 5354 or +972 5 0620 3264
CALL Shlomo Dror in the Ministry of Defence at:
Tel +972 3697 5339 or +972 50629 8148
Free Gaza Movement
357 99 081 767
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