Israel seizes boat taking humanitarian aid to Gaza

Spirit of Humanity

Spirit of Humanity

On Tuesday afternoon, Israeli Occupation Forces attacked and  boarded the Free Gaza Movement aid boat, the 'Spirit of Humanity,  in international waters. They are now towing the boat with its crew and passengers,  including the Catholic peace campaigner and Noble laureate Mairead Maguire 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  campaigner Cynthia McKinney.  “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.

Mairead  Maguire, winner of a Noble Peace Prize for her work in Northern Ireland said: “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 .

Just before the boat was seized, 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 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.”

The campaigners appeal for readers to contact the Israeli government to ask for the release of the boat and its passengers.  They also call for readers to 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  release.

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