Spirit of Humanity sets out from Cyprus for Gaza

Larnaca: The Free Gaza boat the 'Spirit of Humanity' sailed from Cyprus at 7.30am yesterday. Twenty one human rights and solidarity workers representing 11 different countries were aboard.
The passengers include Catholic  Nobel laureate Mairead Maguire and former US congresswoman Cynthia McKinney. The ship also carries three tons of  medical aid, children's toys, and rehabilitation and reconstruction kits for 20 family homes.  More than 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, ten charitable organizations, and five 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 and Reconstruction, Education, Electricity, Health,  Water and Sanitation. Although over four 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.

Mairead Maguire, was co-winner of the 1977 Nobel Peace prize for her work campaigning for peace  in Northern Ireland. In 1990 she was awarded the Pacem in Terris Award.  She is also a member of the  pro-life group Consistent Life Ethic which is against abortion, the death penalty and euthanasia. She said:  "The Palestinians of Gaza must know that we have not and will not forget them.”

Congresswoman Cynthia McKinney added: "The US 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 said: "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."

Five of those on board are British, including the captain and three passengers who will be remaining in Gaza to undertake human rights work there.

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