FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
For More Information, Please Contact:
(Cyprus) Huwaida Arraf, +357 96 723 999 or +357 99 081 767
(Gaza) Ewa Jasiewicz, +972 598 700 497 firstname.lastname@example.org
(Egypt) Caoimhe Butterly, +20 121 027 072 email@example.com
(U.S.) Ramzi Kysia, +1 703 994 5422 firstname.lastname@example.org
(Cyprus, 11 January 2009) - The Free Gaza Movement ship, "SPIRIT OF
HUMANITY," will leave Larnaca Port at 12:00 noon, Monday, 12 January,
on an emergency mission to besieged Gaza. The ship will carry
desperately needed doctors, journalists, human rights workers, and
members of several European parliaments as well as medical supplies.
This voyage marks Free Gaza's second attempt to break through the
blockade since Israel began attacking the Gaza Strip on 27 December.
Between August and December 2008, the Free Gaza Movement successfully
challenged the Israeli blockade five times, landing the first
international ships in the port of Gaza since 1967.
The Israeli military violently attacked an earlier attempt by the Free
Gaza Movement to send an emergency boat filled with doctors and
medical supplies to Gaza. In the early hours of Tuesday, 30 December,
the Israeli navy deliberately, repeatedly, and without warning rammed
the unarmed ship, the DIGNITY, causing significant structural damage
and endangering the lives of its passengers and crew. The ship found
safe harbor in Lebanon, and is currently awaiting repairs.
Fouad Ahidar, a member of the Belgian Parliament sailing to Gaza
aboard the SPIRIT OF HUMANITY, responded to concerns that Israel may
attack the unarmed mercy ship by saying, "I have five children that
are very worried about me, but I told them, you can sit on your couch
and watch these atrocities on the television, or you can choose to
take action to make them stop."
Israeli attacks on the Gaza Strip have injured thousands of civilians
and killed over 800 people, including scores of women and children.
This ongoing Israeli massacre severely and massively violates
international humanitarian law defined by the Geneva Conventions,
especially the obligations of an Occupying Power and the requirements
of the laws of war.
The United Nations has failed to protect the Palestinian civilian
population from Israel's massive violations of international
humanitarian law. Israel has closed off Gaza from the international
community and demanded that all foreigners leave. But Huwaida Arraf,
an organizer with the Free Gaza Movements, stated that, "We cannot
just sit by and wait for Israel to decide to stop the killing and open
the borders for relief workers to pick up the pieces. We are coming
in. There is an urgent need for this mission as Palestinian civilians
in Gaza are being terrorized and slaughtered by Israel, and access to
humanitarian relief denied to them. When states and the international
bodies responsible for taking action to stop such atrocities chose to
be impotent, then we--the citizens of the world--must act. Our common
humanity demands nothing less."
Israel has been notified that we are coming. A copy of the
notification to the Israeli Authorities is attached.
The media is invited to the Larnaca Port at 10:00am to for final
preparations and a press conference before departure.
WHAT YOU CAN DO
Take Action! CALL the Israeli Government and let them know that the
SPIRIT OF HUMANITY is coming to Gaza. DEMAND that Israel immediately
STOP slaughtering civilians in Gaza and STOP using violence to prevent
human rights and humanitarian assistance to the Palestinian people.
Mark Regev in the Prime Minister's office:
+972 2670 5354 or +972 5 0620 3264
Shlomo Dror in the Ministry of Defence:
+972 3697 5339 or +972 50629 8148
Major Liebovitz from the Israeli Navy:
+ 972 5 781 86248
Official Notification of Intent to Enter
January 11, 2009
To: The Israeli Ministry of Defense, Fax: 972-3-697-6717
To: The Israeli Navy
To: The Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Fax 972-2-5303367
From: The Free Gaza Movement
This letter serves as a formal notification to you as the Occupying
Power and belligerent force in the Gaza Strip that on Monday, January
12 we are navigating the motor vessel, Spirit of Humanity, from the
Port of Larnaca to the port of Gaza City. Our vessel will be flying
the Greek flag, and, as such, falls under the jurisdiction Greece.
We will be sailing from Cypriot waters into international waters, then
directly into the territorial waters of the Gaza Strip without
entering or nearing Israeli territorial waters. We expect to arrive
at the Gaza Port on Tuesday, January 13, 2009.
We will be carrying urgently needed medical supplies in sealed boxes,
cleared by customs at the Larnaca International Airport and the Port
of Larnaca. There will be a total of 30 passengers and crew on board,
among them members of various European Parliaments and several
physicians. Our boat and cargo will also have received security
clearance from the Port Authorities in Cyprus before we depart.
As it will be confirmed that neither we, the cargo, any of the boat's
contents, nor the boat itself constitute any threat to the security of
Israel or its armed forces, we do not expect any interference with
our voyage by Israel's authorities.
On Tuesday, December 30, an Israeli Navy vessel violently, and without
warning, attacked our motor vessel Dignity, disabling the vessel and
endangering the lives of the 16 civilians on board. This notice
serves as clear notification to you of our approach. Any attack on the
motor vessel, Spirit of Humanity, will be premeditated and any harm
inflicted on the 30 civilians on board will be considered the result
of a deliberate attack on unarmed civilians.
The Steering Committee of the Free Gaza Movement
Contact: Huwaida Arraf, Free Gaza Movement, 357 96 723 999