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Emergency appeal for food, meds, clothes, Free Gaza ship attacked by Israeli Navy, diverts to Lebanon

Aid group issues emergency appeal for food, meds, clothes

Date: 30 / 12 / 2008  Time:  14:26
Bethlehem – Ma’an –

An aid organization is warning on Tuesday that the situation in the Gaza Strip is turning into “a real disaster,” according to a statement.

The Gaza Strip is “cold, dark and closed off by Israel; people cannot get their daily needs of food and shelter,” the Al-Burij Society for Community Rehabilitation said in a statement.

“This will require a fast response to rescue them and help them survive this disaster,” the group said.

The group has established an emergency committee for the needs of people living in particularly hard-hit communities, and is appealing for donations of food, clothing and medication.

Oxfam warns of humanitarian disaster in Gaza

[ 30/12/2008 - 12:30 PM ]


Oxfam international has warned of a humanitarian disaster in the Gaza Strip in the event Israel continued its onslaught on the Strip and did not allow passage of humanitarian relief assistance.

The organisation, in a statement on Monday, said that the Israeli occupation forces' incessant aerial bombardment had destroyed the infrastructure in Gaza leaving numerous areas in the Strip without water or electricity.

The increasing number of victims had exhausted the health sector, which is already working with minimum potentials, it added.

Oxfam said that it had to temporarily suspend its humanitarian work in the Strip because of the shelling including one of its programs that used to supply food to 25,000 people in Gaza.

Tens of thousands of Palestinians in the Strip depend on Oxfam's support along with other international aid organizations that provide those people with their basic needs such as potable water, food and sewage, Oxfam Britain's programs director in Jerusalem said.

He added that the world community should not leave the Israeli leaders go ahead in their disproportionate violent acts against civilians in Gaza, which further constitutes a flagrant violation of the international humanitarian laws.

The world leaders should adopt all necessary measures to halt the attacks from all parties and to urge Israel to permanently open all crossings, he underlined.

Israeli Navy Attacks Humanitarian Aid Boat en Route to Gaza

Tuesday December 30, 2008 07:17 by Saed Bannoura - 1 of International Middle East Media Center - IMEMC Editorial Group

An international humanitarian aid boat filled with medical supplies and surgeons has been attacked by the Israeli occupation terrorist navy. According to the Free Gaza movement, the boat called The Dignity has been rammed by an Israeli gunship, and live rounds were fired around the boat, as of 6:45 am Tuesday morning.

The group's media spokesperson said that she had been in contact with the passengers on the boat, which include a former US Congressmember and a Cyprian Member of Parliament, but just before cell phone contact was cut off, heavy gunfire was heard in the background. No one had been injured at the time, but since contact was cut off with the boat, it's unknown whether anyone has been injured.

In a press release, the Free Gaza movement stated, “Contrary to international maritime law, the Israelis are actively preventing the Dignity from approaching Gaza or finding safe haven in either Egypt or Lebanon. Instead, the Israeli navy is demanding that the Dignity return to Cyprus - despite the fact that the ship does not carry enough fuel to do so.”

The Free Gaza movement issued an emergency action alert for their supporters to call the Israeli government to tell them to stop attacking the humanitarian aid mission.

There are 15 civilian passengers aboard the boat, representing 11 different countries. The list of passengers released by the Free Gaza movement is as follows:

(UK) Denis Healey, Captain.  Captain of the Dignity, Denis has been involved with boats for 45 years, beginning with small fishing boats in Portsmouth. He learned to sail while atschool and has been part of the sea ever since. He's a certified yachtmaster and has also worked on heavy marine equipment from yachts to large dredgers. This is his fourth trip to Gaza.

(Greece) Nikolas Bolos, First Mate.  Nikolas is a chemical engineer and human rights activist. He has served as a crewmember on several Free Gaza voyages, including the first one in August.

(Jordan) Othman Abu Falah.  Othman is a senior producer with Al-Jazeera Television. He will remain in Gaza to report on the ongoing military onslaught.

(Australia) Renee Bowyer.  Renee is a schoolteacher and human rights activist. She will remain in Gaza to do human rights monitoring and reporting.

(Ireland) Caoimhe ButterlyCaoimhe is a reknowned human rights activist and Gaza Coordinator for the Free Gaza Movement. She will be remaining in Gaza to do human rights monitoring, assist with relief efforts, and work on project development with Free Gaza.

(Cyprus) Ekaterini Christodulou.  Ekaterini is a well-known and respected freelance journalist in Cyprus. She is traveling to Gaza to report on the conflict.

(Sudan) Sami El-Haj.  Sami is a former detainee at Guantanamo Bay, and head of the human rights section at Al-Jazeera Television. He will remain in Gaza to report on the ongoing military onslaught.

(UK) Dr. David Halpin.  Dr. Halpin is an experienced orthopaedic surgeon, medical professor, and ship's captain. He has organized humanitarian relief efforts in Gaza on several occasions with the Dove and Dolphin. He is traveling to Gaza to volunteer in hospitals and clinics.

(Germany) Dr. Mohamed Issa.  Dr. Issa is a pediatric surgeon from Germany. He is traveling to Gaza to volunteer in hospitals and clinics.

(UK/Tunisia) Fathi Jaouadi.  Fathi is a television producer and human rights activist. He will remain in Gaza to do human rights monitoring and reporting.

(USA) Cynthia McKinney.  Cynthia is a former U.S. Congresswoman from Georgia, and the 2008 Green Party presidential candidate. She is traveling to Gaza to assess the ongoing conflict.

(Cyprus) Martha Paisi.  Martha is a senior research fellow and experienced human rights activist. She is traveling to Gaza to do human rights work and to assist with humanitarian relief efforts.

(UK) Karl Penhaul.  Karl Penhaul is a video correspondent for CNN, based out of Bogotá, Colombia. Appointed to this position in February 2004, he covers breaking news around the world utilizing CNN's new laptop-based 'Digital Newsgathering' system. He is traveling to Gaza to report on the ongoing conflict.

(Iraq) Thaer Shaker.  Thaer is a cameraman with Al-Jazeera television. He will remain in Gaza to report on the ongoing military onslaught.

(Cyprus) Dr. Elena Theoharous, MP.  Dr. Theoharous is a surgeon and a Member of the Cypriot Parliament. She is traveling to Gaza to assess the ongoing conflict, assist with humanitarian relief efforts, and volunteer in hospitals.

Free Gaza ship attacked by Israeli Navy, diverts to Lebanon but taking on water

Date: 30 / 12 / 2008  Time:  09:18
Bethlehem - Ma’an -

The Free Gaza ship successfully landed and unloaded three tons of medical supplies in the Gaza Port Tuesday, but was assailed by Israeli Naval ships which opened fire on the vessel.

According to organizers of the movement one Israeli gunboat rammed into the SS Dignity on the port bow side heavily damaging the ship at approximately 5am. The Israeli army is reporting that the Dignity was on a collision course and did not alter their route despite warnings that the Gaza Strip was a closed military zone and entry would not be allowed.

Israeli warships are also reported to have fired into the water in front of the Dignity in an effort to prevent the ship from continuing on its way to the Strip. The attack was filmed by journalists on board the boat and the crew and passengers will report more extensively on the event once they reach Lebanon.

Dignity passengers and crew reported that the boat was taking on water and is experiencing engine troubles.

According to the Free Gaza statement the “Dignity was clearly in international waters, 90 miles off the coast of Gaza,” when it was hit by the Israeli boat.

The boat is now 40 miles south of Lebanon where the government has given permission for the boat to land and has promised to assist the passengers if needed. The crew reported that Cyprus sea rescue contacted the boat to offer assistance.

Israeli sources deny firing on the humanitarian vessel and claim the navy offered to assist the passengers of the ship. When the offer was declined the navy “escorted the ship until it exited the state’s territorial waters,” according to one Israeli news agency.

Early reports said the ship was able to dock in Gaza and unload supplies, though this is no longer certain.

***Updated 11:52 Bethlehem time

“Dignity” boat sets sail to Gaza

[ 30/12/2008 - 01:10 AM ]


The Palestinian international campaign to lift the siege on Gaza said on Monday that the “Dignity” boat would set sail from Cyprus to Gaza later this evening carrying doctors and medical supplies.

The Free Gaza Movement, which organizes the boat’s sea voyages to Gaza , would send human rights activists along with three tons of medicine and medical equipment donated by Cypriots.

The doctors on arrival would immediately head to Gaza hospitals to assist in treating the wounded who fell in the ongoing Israeli air raids, the campaign said

It hailed the Free Gaza movement’s courageous swift act in solidarity with the Palestinian people who are subjected to the cruelest form of genocide at the hands of the Israeli occupation forces. It held the IOF fully responsible for lives and safety of all those on board the vessel.

Meanwhile, hundreds of thousands of angry demonstrators hit the streets of various Arab and western capitals to protest the IOF brutal air raids.

The demonstrations also condemned Arab regimes especially Egypt , which the demonstrators said was “colluding” with the Israeli occupation authority.

The marches were marked in most Arab capitals in addition to Turkey , Denmark , France , Holland , Britain , Belgium , Ireland and Greece .

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