MV Rachel Corrie Sets Sail

FreeGaza- 14 May 2010 – At 22:45 local time tonight, the MV Rachel Corrie, a 1200-ton cargo ship, part of the eight-vessel Freedom Flotilla, set sail from Ireland on its way to the Mediterranean Sea. There, ships from Turkey and Greece will join her, then sail to Gaza.

This past week reports from Israel have indicated that the Israeli authorities will not allow the Freedom Flotilla to reach Gaza with its cargo of much-needed reconstruction material, medical equipment, and school supplies. According to Israeli news sources, clear orders have been issued to prevent the ships from reaching Gaza, even if this necessitates military violence.

The Free Gaza Movement, which has launched eight other sea missions to Gaza, confirms that Israel has tried these kinds of threats and intimidation tactics before in order to try to stop the missions before they start. “They have not deterred us before and will not deter us now,” said one of the organizers.

Ship to Gaza — Sweden, a Freedom Flotilla coalition partner, together with parliamentarian Mehmet Kaplan (Green Party) yesterday asked for an audience with the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Sweden, Carl Bildt, to discuss what measures the Swedish government and the European Union will take to protect the Freedom Flotilla’s peaceful, humanitarian voyage. Earlier this week during a meeting with the European Campaign to End the Siege on Gaza – another coalition partner, Turkish Prime Minister Tayyib Erdogan expressed his support for “breaking the oppressive siege on the Gaza Strip…which is at the top of Turkey’s list of priorities.“

Coalition partners, Ship to Gaza – Greece and the Turkish relief organization IHH, stressed that the ships, passengers, and cargo will be checked at each port of departure, making it clear that we constitute no security threat to Israel.

Israel’s threats to attack unarmed civilians aboard vessels carrying reconstruction aid are outrageous and indicative of the cruel and violent nature of Israel’s policies towards Gaza. The Freedom Flotilla is acting in line with universal principals of human rights and justice in defying a blockade identified as illegal by the UN and other humanitarian organizations. Palestinians in Gaza have a right to the thousands of basic supplies that Israel bans from entering, including cement and schoolbooks, as well as a right to access the outside world. The Freedom Flotilla coalition calls on all signatories to the Fourth Geneva Conventions to pressure Israel to adhere to its obligations under international humanitarian law, to end the lethal blockade on Gaza, and to refrain from attacking this peaceful convoy.

Free Gaza Freedom Flotilla Announces Aid Mission For 24th May

Buy Cement To Be Sent On The Freighters

Or Donate Here

(London, UK) On May 24, 2010, the Freedom Flotilla sets sail for Gaza determined to, once again, challenge Israel’s blockade of 1.5 million Palestinians trapped in an open-air prison. Under the coordination of the Free Gaza Movement, numerous human rights organizations, including the Turkish Relief Foundation (IHH), the Perdana Global Peace Organization from Malaysia, the European Campaign to End the Siege of Gaza, and the Swedish and Greek Boat to Gaza initiatives will send three cargo ships loaded with reconstruction, medical and educational supplies. At least five passenger boats with over 600 people on board will accompany the cargo ships.

These passengers include members of Parliament from around the world, U.N., human rights and trade union activists, as well as journalists who will document the largest coordinated effort to directly confront Israel’s illegal blockade of Gaza and take in basic supplies.

Said Mary Hughes Thompson, one of Free Gaza’s co-founders, “Although we were happy with the first trips, it was bitter-sweet, knowing that our small boats and symbolic amounts of relief paled in comparison to what was really needed in Gaza. Now, we finally feel we are helping to organize a powerful action, one with the potential to translate into a sustained campaign of much more effective challenges to Israel’s brutal siege.”

In the past three months, Israel has limited fuel to run the power station. Much of Gaza is often in darkness. There are just enough trucks coming in to barely prevent total starvation, and Egypt, complicit with the Israeli-US policy of blockading Palestinians, is building an underground steel wall to prevent people in Gaza from bringing in vitally needed supplies through tunnels.

A cargo ship sponsored by the people of Malaysia and loaded with cargo donated from citizens of Ireland, Scotland, and Britain as well as thousands around the world, will depart from Ireland the second week of May. When it reaches the Mediterranean, she will be joined by the other boats and begin the journey to Gaza.

Dr. Mona El-Farra, Deputy Director of the Union of Health Work Committees in Gaza was pleased to hear we are coming back. “When the two boats from Free Gaza entered the harbor in 2008, it was like a dream, it was historic. And all great things start with some dreamers who made it true. For us in Gaza, the dream of freedom will not be lost, and we welcome this next voyage with open hearts.”

The Free Gaza Movement along with the partners listed above, are the organizers of this flotilla. However, dozens of organizations and tens of thousands of people around the world are taking part to make this voyage a success. www.freegaza.org

Buy Cement To Be Sent On The Freighters

Or Donate Here

Pirate Movie

FreeGaza shows what state piracy is like-

Free Gaza Hostages Return

FreeGaza.org- Many of you have been asking us what has happened to the kidnapped passengers and our boat, The SPIRIT OF HUMANITY. Here then is our current update.

All 21 passengers have now left. Huwaida and Lubna were freed right away, because they hold Israeli citizenship.

Many passengers did not get all of their belongings back, many computers were stolen, some that were returned had their hard drives completely erased. Many of the pieces of camera equipment were not given back as well, and, of course, none of the tapes of the boarding, roughing up or incarceration of the 21 people who have been returned.

However, all passengers are already in their country or origin or are returning tonight. The London 6 had a press conference last night, the Bahraini 5 had a press conference in Bahrain over the weekend, and the Irish 2 are being feted tonight with a massive rally at Dublin airport. There will be a big reception and press conference there.

The two men from Al Jazeera have both been returned to Jordan through the Allenby bridge.

That leaves the three Americans… Cynthia McKinney, Kathy Sheetz and Adam Shapiro. We hear little from the American media about these three brave passengers, and it will be up to the Americans to express their outrage over their treatment. If they had been kidnapped by the military from Irah or Venezuela, their stories would have been all over the media. Because they were kidnapped by a ‘friendly’ nation, few in the U.S. have opened their mouths.

As far as Israel is concerned, we will demand that our boat be returned, that our equipment and tapes be returned, and they cease and desist their interference with our human rights trips to Gaza. Because we are going back. Israel can ram our boat, threaten us with bodily harm, shoot at us, board and confiscate the boat, shuttle us off to prison, and we will still return.

The outrage in many countries over what happened is muted by the fact that 11,000 Palestinians remain in Israeli jails, many without benefit of trial, many languishing for years without being able to see their families.

And this fact is something we must all remember. We came from countries around the world. We attempted to break Israel’s draconian siege of 1.5 million Palestinians. Even when arrested, the Israelis treated us with kid gloves, afraid of the consequences from governments, activists and human rights organizations. Who will stand up for the Palestinians and do the same thing?

Please go and watch, if you have not already, our video of our incarceration and the incarceration of Palestinian men, woman and children.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7Ri8jWj_KbY

With grateful thanks from all of us to all of you.

Posted in Israel-Palestine. Tags: , . Comments Off

Free Gaza-Press Conference, Today, Journalist House, Nicosia, 17:00-17:30

Journalists’ House
12 CyBC (RIK) Avenue
Aglantzia, Nicosia 2120, Cyprus

(Larnaca, 1 July 2009) Yesterday, the Israeli Navy boarded the Free Gaza Movement boat, SPIRIT OF HUMANITY and kidnapped the 21 human rights activists, humanitarian workers and activists on their way to Gaza. As of today, none of them have had the right to see an attorney even though they came to the detention center to see them.

The Free Gaza Movement is calling for their release and the release of our boat, seized in international waters off the coast of Gaza as our SPOT locator clearly shows.

But more importantly, twenty-one internationals can get headlines. What about the 11,000 Palestinians who languish in jail, many of them tortured. We will update you on the status of our kidnapped passengers and our impounded boat, but who will do the same for the Palestinians and their boats?

We will insist that Israel stop interfering with our voyages to Gaza, since they do not have the right; legal or moral, to enforce a siege that collectively punishes 1.5 million Palestinians.

Our demand is that our passengers re-board the boat and continue on to the port in Gaza, so we can deliver the building supplies and the humanitarian supplies that we loaded and inspected by the Cypriot authorities.

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.

FreeGaza

They’re about to come on board, they’re about to come on board. Then the line went dead. If true, Israel illegally boarded Spirit.

Then-

IOF released a statement saying they’ve taken over the boat. Call the Israeli officials. Register your outrage over kidnapping our people.

Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in Human Rights, Israel-Palestine. Tags: . Comments Off

Free Gaza Surrounded and Threatened By Israeli Navy

At 1:40 am, [local] the Israeli Navy surrounded the SPIRIT while it is on its way to the Gaza Strip. We got a call from the boat saying that they were being threatened, told to turn back or they would be fired on.

Huwaida Arraf, one of the delegation leaders, was on the phone with the Israeli gunboats, and we could hear her saying, “You Cannot Open Fire on Unarmed Civilians” several times. At this writing, they are surrounded by several ships shining bright lights into the SPIRIT.

CALL or FAX Major Liebovitz from the Israeli Navy at:
Tel + 972 5 781 86248 or +972 3737 7777 or +972 3737 6242
Fax +972 3737 6123 or +972 3737 7175

CALL Mark Regev in the Prime Minister’s office at:
Tel +972 2670 5354 or +972 5 0620 3264
mark.regev@it.pmo.gov.il

CALL Shlomo Dror in the Ministry of Defence at:
Tel +972 3697 5339 or +972 50629 8148
mediasar@mod.gov.il

Update: We just heard from the people on board the boat. The Israeli navy is jamming the radio and preventing navigation systems from working. This action is in direct violation of International and Maritime law.

If anything happens to the boat or its passengers, it will be the direct result of Israel’s aggressive response to a civilian boat taking unarmed passengers to Gaza. The Free Gaza Movement holds the government of Israel responsible for the safety and security of the passengers on board the SPIRIT.

We would like to emphasize that the boat is in international waters, and, as such, falls under the protection of international law.

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