(LARNACA, 22 September 2008) - The Free Gaza Movement announced today that an international delegation of doctors, parliamentarians, and human rights workers will sail to Gaza aboard the SS Hope on Wednesday, September 24th. A press conference will be held on Wednesday at Larnaca Port prior to the ship’s departure.
The passengers on board include:
- 5 physicians from 4 countries
- human rights lawyers and monitors
- Jamal Zahalka, a member of the Israeli Knesset
- Dr. Mustafa Barghouti, General Secretary of the Palestinian National Initiative, and member of the Palestinian Legislative Council
- Mairead Maguire, who won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1976 for her work in Belfast
According to Maguire, a world-renowned human rights campaigner, “This mission carries with it the hopes and wishes of many people around the world."
On August 23, two of the Free Gaza Movement’s boats, the SS Free Gaza and the SS Liberty arrived in Gaza Port to the jubilation of tens of thousands of Palestinians gathered there. It was the first time in over forty years that international ships had docked in Gaza Port.
Since Israel tightened its blockade two years ago, malnutrition and unemployment rates in Gaza have soared. In May 2008, several international aid organizations, including CARE International UK, CAFOD, Christian Aid, Oxfam, and Medecins du Monde UK, stated that, “the stranglehold on Gaza’s borders has made ... the work of the UN and other humanitarian agencies ... virtually impossible. Only a trickle of medicine, food, fuel and other goods is being allowed in…making people highly dependent on food aid, and brought the health system and basic services, such as water and sanitation near to collapse.”
Huwaida Arraf, the delegation spokesperson and a law lecturer at Al-Quds University in Jerusalem, said, “The world cannot stay silent as the Palestinian people are deliberately starved and humiliated; Palestinians have a right to life with dignity. Last month, on August 23rd, our two, small, wooden boats, the SS Free Gaza and SS Liberty, sailed to Gaza and did what our governments would not do - we defied Israel’s illegal collective punishment of 1.5 million men, women and children living in the Gaza Strip. On September 24th, we’re sailing back to Gaza to challenge it again. Our boats are very humble, but what they represent is hope, and hope is what mobilizes change the world around.”
The SS Hope was named in recognition of St. Augustine, who wrote that “Hope is the greatest of all virtues, even greater than Love. For Love only teaches us what should be, while Hope teaches us what will be.”
For More Information, please contact:
(Cyprus/Gaza) Huwaida Arraf, +972 59 913 0426 / firstname.lastname@example.org
(Cyprus) Greta Berlin, +357 99 081 767 / email@example.com