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CLG News and Action Alert
IDF Seizes Gaza Aid Ship
Posted by Lori Price, www.legitgov.org
(Updated 04 Jul 2009)

Can you *imagine* what would happen if *Iran* intercepted a vessel with a former congressperson and Nobel Prize winner? It makes my head *spin* to think of how fast the US missiles would be flying!

Spirit of Humanity

'I have to refer you to the Government of Israel.' U.S. Department of State Middle East Digest 01 Jul 2009 QUESTION: Erin Connors from Press TV. Former congresswoman Cynthia McKinney and members of the Free Gaza Movement were intercepted by the Israeli army when they were on a humanitarian mission over there. What’s being done about that? Are they on their way home? Will they be deported? What’s the next step there, and will their supplies ever get to where they’re going? IAN KELLY: On that last question, I don’t know the answer, actually. I think I have to refer you to the Government of Israel. We can confirm that the Israeli navy did arrest those on board this – the ship which is known as Spirit. We can't comment on any of the individuals or the number of individual American citizens on board because of Privacy Act concern. [OH, but you would comment from here to Armageddon if Ahmadinejad sneezed or you heard there were missing ballots in Tehran, right? Can you *imagine* what would happen if Iran or Venezuela intercepted a vessel and/or incarcerated a former congressperson and Nobel Prize winner? Instead of covering Neverland 24/7, Faux would be covering the US shock & awe bombardment of the offending nation. --LRP]

Gaza activists still in Israel jail 04 Jul 2009 A number of foreign activists are still in detention in a Tel Aviv jail four days after the Israeli navy stopped their boat as they attempted to reach the Gaza Strip. Mairead Maguire, a Nobel peace prize winner, told Al Jazeera on Saturday that the activists had agreed to remain in detention until Israel agreed to free all of the activists.

In Israeli jail, McKinney expects more from Washington 04 Jul 2009 Former US lawmaker Cynthia McKinney, who is in an Israeli jail for trying to take humanitarian aid to Gaza, says the White House has done nothing to secure her release. Speaking to Press TV from inside the Israeli jail, she said US taxpayers paid for Israel's 22-day war on the Gaza Strip. "Operation Cast Lead was made possible by the US taxpayers' gift to the Israeli war machine in the form of F16s, helicopters gunship, white phosphorous, uranium cluster bombs and anything that kills," she told Press TV from inside the Israeli jail on Saturday.

Falk slams Israel, says relief boat seizure 'unlawful' 03 Jul 2009 Israel's two-year blockade of the Gaza Strip is a continuing crime against humanity, and its seizure of a ship carrying humanitarian aid for Gaza was "unlawful", says a UN human rights investigator. Richard Falk, the UN special rapporteur on human rights in the Palestinian territories, said Thursday that the blockade restricted vital supplies such as food, medicine and fuel to "bare subsistence levels."

In Israel, former US lawmaker remains imprisoned 03 Jul 2009 Former US lawmaker Cynthia McKinney and several other human rights activists remain in an Israeli prison after refusing to sign a deportation form that they claim is self-incriminating. In a press release from McKinney's Green Party, she said the form states that the their relief boat carrying 21 activists, medial supplies, cement, olive trees and children's toys en route to Gaza, was violating the Israeli blockade and trespassing its territorial waters.

Activists Held by Israel for Trying to Break Gaza Blockade 03 Jul 2009 Nineteen foreign activists of the pro-Palestinian Free Gaza Movement were being held in Israel awaiting deportation on Thursday, two days after the Israeli Navy seized control of their boat off Gaza. A former United States Representative, Cynthia McKinney, and an Irish peace activist and Nobel laureate, Mairead Corrigan Maguire, were among those being held. Two additional Israeli activists were released without being charged on Wednesday, according to the group.

Activists vow to keep up Gaza trips despite Israel 01 Jul 2009 Pro-Palestinian activists vowed on Wednesday to continue to defy an Israeli navy blockade around Gaza, a day after Israel seized their boat and detained 21 people taking aid to the territory. Israel boarded a small ferry carrying activists to Gaza on Tuesday, intercepting the vessel in Gaza's Israeli-controlled coastal waters. Those detained included an Irish peace laureate, a former member of the U.S. Congress and charity workers from Bahrain.

Israelis intercept Gaza aid ship 30 Jun 2009 Israeli forces have boarded a ship trying to carry aid and pro-Palestinian activists to the Gaza Strip in defiance of Israel's blockade of the territory. The 20 passengers include former US congresswoman Cynthia McKinney and Nobel Prize winner Mairead Maguire.

Activist on boat seized by IDF laments world apathy to Gaza 30 Jun 2009 One of the international activists who sought to sail to Gaza on Tuesday lamented the world's "apathy" to the plight of the Hamas-ruled territory shortly before the Israel Navy seized control of the vessel. "We didn't come with guns and weapons, but with just humanitarian aid, in an attempt to break the siege of Gaza and to tell the apathetic world about what is happening in the Strip, especially after the last war," said Huwaida Araf in an interview with the Nazareth-based radio station Al-Shams.

Israel threatens to shoot international activists 30 Jun 2009 The postwar humanitarian crisis in Gaza takes a turn for the worse with the Israeli Navy intercepting a relief ship headed toward the coastal strip. A group of 21 activists sailing to Gaza said Tuesday that Israeli forces had threatened to gun down their boat unless they changed direction. The activists onboard included an Irish Nobel peace laureate and a former US congresswoman.

*****

Boat Surrounded By Israeli Navy, Communications Are Being Jammed By Cynthia McKinney
29 Jun 2009

At 1:40 am (local time), the Israeli Navy surrounded the SPIRIT while it is on its way to the Gaza Strip. We got a call from the boat saying that they were being threatened, told to turn back or they would be fired on.

Huwaida Arraf, one of the delegation leaders, was on the phone with the Israeli gunboats, and we could hear her saying, "You Cannot Open Fire on Unarmed Civilians" several times. At this writing, they are surrounded by several ships shining bright lights into the SPIRIT.

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
mark.regev@it.pmo.gov.il

CALL Shlomo Dror in the Ministry of Defence at:
Tel +972 3697 5339 or +972 50629 8148
mediasar@mod.gov.il

Free Gaza Movement
357 99 081 767
http://www.freegaza.org
http://www.flickr.com/photos/29205195@N02/

*****

International Action Center Boston
Take Action Right Now

The U.S. government and corporate media has largely ignored or buried this story due to racism against Cynthia McKinney and the people of Palestine. It is up to us to get the word out.

This act of terrorism by the Israeli Occupation Forces against an unarmed vessel is a clear attempt to scare people away from showing solidarity with the people of Gaza. We must take action now! Here's how you can help:

1) Sign the Online Petition (See below.)

2) Get the word out - forward this message to your email lists, post in on Facebook & MySpace, etc.

3) Support Aid Caravans to Gaza! In addition to the current project of Free Gaza, another aid caravan, Viva Palestina, will be leaving the U.S. on July 4th headed by British MP George Galloway and Vietnam War veteran Ron Kovic and including hundreds of people from the United States.

4) Call the media. The U.S. corporate media has largely ignored or buried this story due to racism against Cynthia McKinney and the people of Palestine. Please call the media - demand that they cover this criminal act by the Israeli Occupation Forces.

Petition:

Sign it online at http://www.iacenter.org/palestine/gazashippetition

To: President Barack Obama, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Vice President Joe Biden, Congressional leaders, U.N. General Assembly President d'Escoto-Brockmann, U.N. Secretary General Ban, members of the U.N. Security Council, U.N. member states, and the President, Prime Minister, Cabinet and Opposition leader of Israel

cc: Major media representatives, International Red Cross

RELEASE THE SPIRIT OF HUMANITY AND ALL ITS PASSENGERS IMMEDIATELY AND ALLOW ITS HUMANITARIAN MISSION TO GAZA TO PROCEED! END THE SIEGE OF GAZA NOW!

I am outraged at the actions of the Israeli military in attacking and boarding the Free Gaza Movement boat, the SPIRIT OF HUMANITY, abducting 21 human rights workers from 11 countries, including Nobel laureate Mairead Maguire and former U.S. Congresswoman Cynthia McKinney, dragging passengers and crew forcibly toward Israel. I am further outraged that Israel has confiscated tons of medicine from the ship as well as toys and olive trees.

I demand that the boat, passengers and crew be released immediately and allowed to proceed with its mission of bring humanitarian aid to Gaza.

As former U.S. Congressperson and 2008 Presidential Candidate Cynthia McKinney said, "This is an outrageous violation of international law. Our boat was not in Israeli waters, and we were on a human rights mission to the Gaza Strip. 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 on June 29, 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."

I demand that the Obama Administration take immediate action to protest the violation of international law and obtain the release of the ship and those abducted, listed below, assure the access to Gaza of humanitarian aid and missions like that of the Spirit of Humanity and the upcoming humanitarian aid mission Viva Palestina headed by British MP George Galloway and Vietnam War veteran Ron Kovic and including hundreds of people from the United States. The Viva Palestina mission is scheduled to leave New York City on July 4, bound for Gaza.

I further demand the Obama Administration take action to end immediately the brutal siege, blockade and occupation of Gaza.

Release the SPIRIT OF HUMANITY and all of the following human rights workers and crew NOW:

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
Cynthia McKinney is an outspoken advocate for human rights and social justice issues, as well as a former 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, US
Kathy is a nurse and film maker, traveling to Gaza to do human rights monitoring.

Sincerely,
Signatories of the petition

Originally posted: 01 Jul 2009

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