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Israeli Navy blocks, rams and then boards “Spirit of Humanity”; takes passengers prisoner


Tuesday, 30 June 2009 14:28 Written by Free Gaza Team


For more information contact:

Greta Berlin (English)

tel: +357 99 081 767 /

Caoimhe Butterly (Arabic/English/Spanish):

tel: +357 99 077 820 /

[23 miles off the coast of Gaza, 15:30] – 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.



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



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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