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(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.
Photos of leaving this morning:
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.