30 June 2009
ISRAEL ATTACKS JUSTICE BOAT; KIDNAPS HUMAN RIGHTS WORKERS; CONFISCATES
MEDICINE, TOYS AND OLIVE TREES
For more information contact:
Greta Berlin (English)
tel: +357 99 081 767 / firstname.lastname@example.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
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."
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
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
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
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
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
Carter: Palestinians treated like 'animals' under Israeli siege
Former US president 'holds back tears' after seeing 'deliberate destruction'
of Gaza by Israeli F16s.
Middle East Online: 2009-06-16
GAZA CITY - Former US president Jimmy Carter on Tuesday met democratically
elected Hamas leader Ismail Haniya in the Gaza Strip, where he called for a
lifting of Israel's blockade, saying Palestinians are being treated "like
Following the talks, Carter called for an end of "all violence" against both
Israelis and Palestinians.
"This is holy land for us all and my hope is that we can have peace... all
of us are children of Abraham," he said at a joint news conference with
Haniya, prime minister of the Hamas government in the Palestinian enclave.
Carter was expected to pass on a letter from the parents of Gilad Shalit, an
Israeli soldier seized by Gaza resistance including Hamas in a cross-border
raid almost three years ago, and who remains in captivity.
Earlier Carter denounced the Israeli blockade and the destruction wrought by
its 22-day military offensive against Gaza in December and January.
"My primary feeling today is one of grief and despair and an element of
anger when I see the destruction perpetrated against innocent people,"
Carter said as he toured the impoverished territory.
"Tragically, the international community too often ignores the cries for
help and the citizens of Palestine are treated more like animals than like
human beings," he said.
"The starving of 1.5 million human beings of the necessities of life --
never before in history has a large community like this been savaged by
bombs and missiles and then denied the means to repair itself," Carter said
at a UN school graduation ceremony in Gaza City.
The United States and Europe "must try to do all that is necessary to
convince Israel and Egypt to allow basic goods into Gaza," he said.
"At same time, there must be no more rockets" from Gaza into Israel, said
Carter, who brokered the historic 1979 peace treaty between Israel and
"I have to hold back tears when I see the deliberate destruction that has
been wracked against your people," he said at a destroyed American school,
saying it was "deliberately destroyed by bombs from F16s made in my
"I feel partially responsible for this as must all Americans and Israelis,"
Shortly after entering Gaza, Carter's convoy of white UN 4x4 vehicles
stopped briefly in the area of Ezbet Abed Rabbo, one of the most ravaged
during the Israeli onslaught at the turn of the year.
The massive destruction in the area has made it a regular stop for the
succession of foreign dignitaries who have come to Gaza since the war.
As Carter briefly emerged from his vehicle to look at the damage, one
resident ran up, yelling that he wanted to talk to the former US leader, and
getting into a brief shoving match with bodyguards.
"They all come here and look at us like we're animals and then they go
home," said Majid Athamna. "We're not animals, we're human beings."
"If he wants to come and visit us, he has to listen to us."
In an interview with an Israeli daily published earlier in the week, Carter
urged Israel to lift its blockade and stop treating the 1.5 million
aid-dependent residents of the Palestinian territory like "savages."
"To me, the most grievous circumstance is the maltreatment of the people in
Gaza, who are literally starving and have no hope at this time," Carter told
the Haaretz newspaper in an interview published on Sunday.
"They're being treated like savages. The alleviation of their plight to some
means I think would be the most important (thing) the Israeli PM could do."
Israel's war on Gaza killed nearly 1,400 Palestinians, mainly civilians, and
wounded 5,450 others.
Among the dead were 437 children, 110 women, 123 elderly men, 14 medics and
The wounded include 1,890 children and 200 people in serious condition.
The war also left tens of thousands of houses destroyed, while their
residents remained homeless.
Israel, which wants to crush any Palestinian liberation movement, responded
to Hamas's win in the elections with sanctions, and almost completely
blockaded the impoverished coastal strip after Hamas seized power in 2007,
although a 'lighter' siege had already existed before.
Human rights groups, both international and Israeli, slammed Israel's siege
of Gaza, branding it "collective punishment."
A group of international lawyers and human rights activists had also accused
Israel of committing "genocide" through its crippling blockade of the Strip.
Gaza is still considered under Israeli occupation as Israel controls air,
sea and land access to the Strip.
The Rafah crossing with Egypt, Gaza's sole border crossing that bypasses
Israel, rarely opens as Egypt is under immense US and Israeli pressure to
keep the crossing shut.
Fatah has little administrative say in the Israeli-occupied West Bank, and
has no power in Arab east Jerusalem, both of which were illegally occupied
by Israel in 1967.
Israel also currently occupies the Lebanese Shabaa Farms and the Syrian