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Israeli Pirates Capture Spirit of Humanity Aid Boat Destined to Besieged Gaza, with World Silence


[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.
There are six British citizens on board the boat, including the captain, Dennis Healey. 

“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.”

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.”

Kidnapped Passengers from the Spirit of Humanity include:

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

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

Fathi Jaouadi, UK
Fathi is a British journalist, Free Gaza organizer, and delegation co-coordinator for this voyage.
Adnan Mormesh, UK
Adnan is a solidarity worker from Britain. He is traveling to Gaza to do long-term human rights monitoring.

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

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.


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

For more information contact (in Cyprus):

Greta Berlin (English)
tel: +357 99 081 767 /

Caoimhe Butterly (Arabic/English/Spanish):
tel: +357 99 077 820 /
and in England:
Hilary Smith
tel: +447818040982

Hamas criticizes world’s 'silence' at capture of Gaza aid boat

Date: 01 / 07 / 2009  Time:  12:59
Gaza – Ma’an –

The Hamas movement criticized on Wednesday what it said was international indifference to Israel’s capture of a civilian ship carrying humanitarian aid to Gaza.

Israeli’s navy intercepted, then took control of the Spirit of Humanity ship on Tuesday, towing it to the Israeli port of Ashdod and arresting the crew and passengers. The voyage was organized by the Free Gaza Movement, which has already staged three successful journeys in defiance of an Israeli blockade.

Hamas spokesperson Fawzi Barhoum said, “The abduction of a ship carrying solidarity activists from 22 [sic] countries indicates that Israel is going too far with its criminal acts, and widening its range of aggression.”

Barhoum asserted that the Gaza Strip badly needed the efforts of all international activists and human rights groups to help women, children, the elderly as well as victims of the recent Israeli military offensive.

Barghouthi condemns Israeli attack on Free Gaza ship

Date: 30 / 06 / 2009  Time:  21:06
Ramallah - Ma'an –

Member of the Palestinian Legislative Council Dr Mustafa Al-Barghouthi condemned Israeli decision to abduct the crew of the siege-breaking Free Gaza ship and bring the boat and its cargo to Ashdod against their will.

Speaking following the incident Barghouthi called it a “pirate attack” where internationals were illegally captured in international waters and prevented from showing solidarity with Gazans. He expressed shock that Israeli forces would treat crew members which included a former US Congresswoman and Nobel Peace Prize winner as criminals.

He said he hoped the mission would not be deterred from continuing their mission, which is scheduled to run two more missions to Gaza this summer.

Int’l Palestinian campaign slams Israel for hijacking spirit of humanity boat

[ 30/06/2009 - 06:00 PM ]


The international Palestinian campaign against the siege on Tuesday strongly denounced the IOF troops for attacking the spirit of humanity boat and towing it to an Israeli port as it was trying to enter the territorial waters of Gaza, describing this behavior as an act of piracy.

In a statement, the campaign noted that the boat was carrying humanitarian aid and multinational activists including Nobel prize laureate Mairead Maguire and former US congresswoman Cynthia McKinney.

The campaign said such act was not alien to Israel which violated all international conventions, killed civilians and children and bombed medical crews and civil institutions.

The campaign held Israel fully responsible for the lives and safety of the Free Gaza activists aboard the boat, appealing to the international community to intervene to get the activists released and enable them to return safely to their homes or allow them to reach the besieged Gaza Strip to pursue their humanitarian mission.

In another statement, the campaign reported it received this morning a telephone call from Free Gaza organizer Huwaida Arraf saying the boat was 24 miles off the coast of Gaza when it was intercepted and hijacked by Israeli gunboats.

In a press statement to the PIC, spokesman for the Palestinian government in Gaza Taher Al-Nunu held Israel fully responsible for the lives of the Free Gaza activists, condemning what happened as a cowardly act of piracy.

Spokesman Nunu said that this incident reflected the barbarism of Israel and its violation of all international laws and conventions, highlighting that such Israeli practices would not succeed in discouraging growing international attempts to break the unjust siege on Gaza.

In the same context, the Free Gaza team in Cyprus reported receiving a cellphone call from boat passengers saying that the Israeli navy had surrounded the boat and was pointing guns at all the passengers. In the background, they reported hearing organizer Huwaida Arraf shouting at Israeli naval soldiers, "You cannot open fire on unarmed civilians", and repeating this statement a number of times.

Former US Green party presidential candidate Cynthia McKinney, who is a passenger on the boat, stated, "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 and threaten our safety and welfare? I call on president Obama and the international community to intervene now to prevent this situation from escalating with potentially drastic results to the civilians on board."

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