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June 2009

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ISRAEL ATTACKS JUSTICE BOAT; KIDNAPS HUMAN RIGHTS WORKERS; CONFISCATES MEDICINE, TOYS AND OLIVE TREES
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Tuesday, 30 June 2009 14:28 Written by Free Gaza Team
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
30 June 2009

For more information contact:
Greta Berlin (English)
tel: +357 99 081 767 / friends@freegaza.org This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

Caoimhe Butterly (Arabic/English/Spanish):
tel: +357 99 077 820 / sahara78@hotmail.co.uk This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
http://www.FreeGaza.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 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.”
###
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
mark.regev@it.pmo.gov.il This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

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
tel_aviv.tel@icrc.org This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

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
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.
###

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“Spirit of Humanity”

Dear Friends of Free Gaza: The SPIRIT has left over 9 hours ago. They are on their way to Gaza and will be there tomorrow afternoon. We ask that you follow their progress by going to our website at http://www.freegaza.org and clicking on LIVE in the upper left hand side. You will be able to see where they are from the SPOT beacon on board.

If you also would like to make yourselves heard, you can call or fax the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs and demand that Israel not harm the boat, the passengers or the cargo. Their numbers are listed below. The more of you who do that, the safer our mission.

Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs
Tel +972-2-530-3111
Fax +972-2-530-3367

humanity

LARNACA, 29 June 2009) – The Free Gaza boat the “Spirit of Humanity”
departed Cyprus at 7:30am on Monday, 29 July. Twenty-one human rights and
solidarity workers representing eleven different countries were aboard.
The passengers include Nobel laureate Mairead Maguire and former U.S.
congresswoman Cynthia McKinney. The ship also carries three tons of
medical aid, children’s toys, and rehabilitation and reconstruction kits
for twenty family homes.

Over 2,400 homes were destroyed in Gaza during the Israeli massacre in
December/January, 490 of them by F-16 airstrikes, as well as 30 mosques,
29 educational institutions, 29 medical centers, 10 charitable
organizations, and 5 cement factories.

Each kit carries a small amount of supplies for a single family,
representing sectors of civil society currently being blockaded by Israel:
Agriculture, Building & Reconstruction, Education, Electricity, Health,
and Water & Sanitation. Although over 4 billion dollars in aid was
promised to Gaza in the aftermath of the Israeli onslaught, little
humanitarian aid and no reconstruction supplies have been allowed in.
###

Quotes:

Mairead Maguire, co-winner of the 1977 Nobel Peace prize for her work in
Northern Ireland:
“[The Palestinians of Gaza] must know that we have not and will not forget
them.”

Congresswoman Cynthia McKinney:
“[T]he U.S. should send a message to Israel reiterating the reported White
House position that the blockade of Gaza should be eased, and that medical
supplies and building materials, including cement, should be allowed in
… Will [President Obama] stand by his own words and allow us to provide
relief for Gaza or will he back down?”

Huwaida Arraf, Chairperson of the Free Gaza Movement:
“Israel’s closure policy is a blatant violation of international law. We
call upon our governments to take action to uphold their obligations under
the Fourth Geneva Conventions. Until they do, we will act.
###

Passengers aboard 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/Tunisia
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.
###

Palestinian boycott keeps Dead Sea off ‘7 wonders’ list

By Reuters

The Dead Sea will be eliminated next week from a contest to choose the seven natural wonders of the world, because of a Palestinian boycott over the participation of an Israeli settler council.

The New 7 Wonders of Nature is a global Internet contest under the slogan: “If we want to save anything, we first need to truly appreciate it.” In 2007 it chose the new seven man-made wonders of the world.

Its rules state that if a nominee site is located in more than one country, all countries in which it is located must form an Official Supporting Committee (OSC) by July 7.

Israel and Jordan have both done so for the Dead Sea, which they share, but the Palestinian Authority has decided against.

For the Dead Sea, a win would highlight the environmental threat to a unique lake which has shrunk dramatically in the past 30 years due to human exploitation of the Jordan River feed waters and Dead Sea mineral extraction.

“We will not be forming a committee,” Palestinian Tourism Minister Khouloud Douaibes told Reuters, because the Israeli committee “has been consulting with settler councilmen on occupied land and this contravenes international law”.

“Therefore, we are not interested in the issue,” she said reflecting a view that renders the contest and its potential benefits insignificant next to the Palestinians’ long struggle against settlers in their midst.

Unless there is a last-minute rethink by the Palestinians, the decision means the famously buoyant lake at the lowest point on Earth cannot advance to the next stage of the contest.

That is when Internet voters worldwide narrow down the field of 261 to 77, from which the final shortlist of 21 will be chosen ahead of the final vote in 2011, in which N7W predicts one billion electronic votes will be cast.

The Palestinian refusal was no surprise to interested Israelis who predicted months ago that the involvement of the Megilot Dead Sea Regional Council — which governs settlements — would prove a major obstacle to Palestinian participation.

“It’s very sad,” Megilot Dead Sea Council spokeswoman Gura Berger told Reuters. “The Dead Sea is so unique it’s beyond politics. Neither my kids nor Palestinian kids will be able to enjoy it if nothing is done to save it.”

Jordan benefited handsomely after the ancient ruins at Petra were voted a man-made Wonder of the World in 2007. Visits have more than doubled since it won the contest.

The Dead Sea’s water level is shrinking by 3.3 feet a year, according to a World Bank study.

source

habibi

25th June 2009 Video Free Gaza Special Edition Departing to Gaza

Obama’s double talk

By Tammy Obeidallah

obama_in_sderot

Congratulations to President Barack Obama for duping the Arab and Muslim community in America yet again with another hollow speech. He became the darling of many by opening his recent Cairo address with “Assalamu Aleikum.” So he is better at languages and public relations than G.W. Bush. Other than that, there is little difference between the two administrations.

First, there is the matter of closing the detention center at Guantanamo Bay. Obama has backpedaled on the issue of releasing photos of prisoner abuse citing it would “enflame anti-American sentiment.” Sound familiar? Then there is the manufactured red tape regarding which country will take the detainees once they are released. Common sense dictates they should be dropped off wherever U.S. soldiers captured them before unlawfully whisking them away to an overseas limbo.

If Obama supporters can stop fist-bumping long enough at their success in bringing hope and change to the masses, they might have time to raise these points and also question the status of detainees at Bagram Air Force Base in Afghanistan, America’s new Guantanamo. If they get around to it, maybe they can also ask why Obama (like Bush in the beginning of his first term) pay lip service to the idea of a Palestinian state without holding the Israelis accountable for their actions.

read on

Free Gaza sails update

Contact: Greta Berlin, Cyprus: +357 99 08 17 67
Angela Godfrey Goldstein, Jerusalem: +972 547 366 393

(Larnaca, 24 June 2009) As the Free Gaza Movement gets ready to set sail on our eighth mission, many of our passengers are reflecting about why we are sailing to besieged Gaza.

Ahmed is returning to his home in Gaza. Israeli occupying forces will not allow him to see his mum. “I have tried to go home for six years, six years I have not been allowed to see my mother, and she is terribly ill. This is my chance to go home. I must go home.”

Sixteen nations are represented on this voyage. Many of us have traveled thousands of miles to show the world that we will not stand by while the Palestinians of Gaza continue to be violated.

“I’ve flown in from Bahrain to tell my sisters in Gaza that we will never rest until the world knows what has happened to them,” stated Juhaina, a young woman from Bahrain.

“When we left last August, I told the people of Gaza we would come back, and I’ve flown 5000 miles to keep that promise,” said Mary Hughes Thompson, one of the co-founders of the movement.

“I am returning to the friends that I made when I went in October,” said Mairead Maguire, Nobel peace laureate. “They must know that we have not and will not forget them.”

The 15 tons of cement that our small boats carry are just a token of what is needed to rebuild the Gaza strip, but the hope in the hearts of the passengers cannot be measured by weight. Miles and miles they have traveled to get to Cyprus, miles more they will travel tomorrow to get to Gaza. Both the FREE GAZA and the SPIRIT OF HUMANITY will proudly fly the flags of 16 nations, the flags of people who are determined not to forget the horror of an occupation that has lasted 41 years.

##########
www.FreeGaza.org
The Free Gaza Movement, a human rights group, sent two boats to Gaza in August 2008. These were the first international boats to land in the port in 41 years. Since August, four more voyages were successful, taking Parliamentarians, human rights workers, and other dignitaries to witness the effects of Israel’s draconian policies on the civilians of Gaza. On December 30, their boat, the DIGNITY was rammed three times while 90 nautical miles out, in international waters, on its way to deliver emergency medical supplies to the people of Gaza, while they were under the infamous attack by Israel.

free gaza sails

PRESS ADVISORY
24 June 2009

The Free Gaza Movement will depart Larnaca Port for the Gaza Strip at 10am on Thursday 25 June. We are sending two ships, the Free Gaza and the Spirit of Humanity, with 3 tons of medical supplies, 15 tons of cement, and human rights workers and journalists from 14 countries, including Nobel laureate Mairead Maguire and former U.S. Congresswoman and presidential candidate Cynthia McKinney. This will be our first attempt to challenge Israel’s naval blockade on Gaza by sea since the Israeli Navy brutally rammed our boat, DIGNITY in December, and nearly sank the SPIRIT OF HUMANITY with all on board in January.

We will be holding a press conference at Larnaca Port between 9am and 10am, prior to our departure.

For more information, please contact Greta Berlin or Ramzi Kysia at +357 99 081 767, friends@freegaza.org
###
http://www.FreeGaza.org

From the Free Gaza “boat people”

For Immediate Release

Contact: Greta Berlin or Ramzi Kysia, Cyprus: +357 99 08 17 67
Angela Godfrey Goldstein, Jerusalem: +972 547 366 393

(Doha, 22 June 2009) In three days, the Free Gaza movement sails 240 miles from Cyprus to Gaza, its eighth mission to break Israel’s draconian siege on 1.5 million Palestinians there. In the holds of the FREE GAZA and the SPIRIT OF HUMANITY will be tons of cement, and suitcases full of toys, crayons and coloring books for the children, all items banned by Israel’s government.

Two of the organizers, Huwaida Arraf and Greta Berlin, as well as the Honorable Cynthia McKinney, former U.S. Congresswoman from Georgia, held a press conference yesterday in Doha, Qatar. All three called on the world to recognize Palestinian human and civil rights…rights that have been denied for 61 years.

“People in Gaza are being made to live in subhuman conditions. Children are dying, and governments are silent. It is important to continue sending boats to Gaza to challenge the criminal blockade enforced by the Israeli military,” said Ms. Arraf.

The group emphasized that what they are taking is only a token of what the people of Gaza need. They are hoping to buy a cargo boat , to bring in larger amounts of building supplies via the sea route they aim to open. They ask for the financial support of people around the world to purchase this ship.

Speaking to Al Jazeera and eight other news organizations, Ms Arraf emphasized, “International donors pledged over $4bn to rebuild Gaza, yet none of them are doing a thing about the fact that Israel allows no building supplies into the territory. So 36 of us from 16 countries are leaving on Thursday to tell the world to do something.”

When asked what guarantees the group has received from the Israeli government, both Berlin and Arraf frowned. “We do not seek permission from or coordinate with the Israeli authorities. Israel has grossly abused its authority as an occupying power, daily violating the human rights of Palestinians, and imposing collective punishment on them. It is past time for the international community to stop abetting Israel’s illegal closure policy.” stated Ms. Arraf.

The group intends to go at least three times over the summer; June 25th, July 14th, and August 16th, near the anniversary of the first successful voyage.

##########

The Free Gaza Movement, a human rights group, sent two boats to Gaza in August 2008. These were the first international boats to land in the port in 41 years. Since August, four more voyages were successful, taking Parliamentarians, human rights workers, and other dignitaries to witness the effects of Israel’s draconian policies on the civilians of Gaza. On December 30, their boat, the DIGNITY was rammed three times while 90 nautical miles out, in international waters, on its way to deliver emergency medical supplies to the people of Gaza, while they were under the infamous attack by Israel. Contact them at http://www.freegaza.org. For photos, please check http://www.flickr.com/photos/29205195@N02/

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