Israel Navy intercepted a boat carrying international activists (including Cynthia McKinney) attempting to break a blockade of the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip

IDF seizes control of boat bound for Gaza
By Barak Ravid and Anshel Pfeffer, Haaretz Correspondents, and Reuters

http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/1096729.html

The Israel Navy intercepted a boat carrying international activists attempting to break a blockade of the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip on Tuesday and forced it to sail to the southern port city of Ashdon, the army said.

Earlier Tuesday, the navy surrounded the vessel, which was also carrying humanitarian aid, and told the activists to turn back because of security risks in the area and the blockade, according to the army.

But the boat later entered Gaza's coastal waters, the Israel Defense Forces Spokespersons' Office said in a statement, after which a naval force boarded it.
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No shots were fired during the boarding of the boat, and the crew was to be handed over to the appropriate authorities, the army said.

In the statement, the IDF Spokespersons' Unit added that it "would like to emphasize that any organization or country that wishes to transfer humanitarian aid to the Gaza Strip, can legally do so via the established crossings between Israel and the Gaza Strip with prior coordination."

The army said humanitarian goods found on board the boat will be transferred to the Gaza Strip, subject to authorization.

An earlier statement by the voyage's organizers, the Free Gaza Movement, said the vessel, renamed the Spirit of Humanity, left the Cypriot port of Larnaca on Monday bound for Gaza with three tons of medical supplies.

The 20 passengers include former U.S. Representative Cynthia McKinney, Nobel Peace Prize laureate Mairead Corrigan Maguire and other activists from Britain, Ireland, Bahrain and Jamaica.

The Free Gaza Movement has organized five boat trips to Gaza since August
2008, defying a blockade imposed by Israel when the militant group Hamas
seized control of the territory from its Palestinian rivals in June 2007.

Two other attempts were stopped by Israeli warships during Israel's three-week offensive against Hamas in the territory in December and January. Nobody on board was harmed.

Israel tightened a blockade on Gaza in 2007 after Hamas seized control of the territory, home to some 1.5 million people.

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Comment by truth on July 3, 2009 at 2:43am
The State Department Speaks... (with video):

http://www.state.gov/r/pa/ei/mideastdigest/125541.htm

Middle East Digest - July 1, 2009
Other Releases

Washington, DC

July 1, 2009

The Middle East Digest provides text and audio from the Daily Press Briefing. For the full briefings, please visit daily press briefings.

From the Daily Press Briefing of July 1, 2009

View Video: http://www.state.gov/video/?videoid=28223377001

1:36 p.m. EDT

I have time for one more question.

QUESTION: One more?

MR. KELLY: Yeah, go ahead.

QUESTION: Erin Connors from Press TV. Former congresswoman Cynthia McKinney and members of the Free Gaza Movement were intercepted by the Israeli army when they were on a humanitarian mission over there. What’s being done about that? Are they on their way home? Will they be deported? What’s the next step there, and will their supplies ever get to where they’re going?

MR. KELLY: On that last question, I don’t know the answer, actually. I think I have to refer you to the Government of Israel. We can confirm that the Israeli navy did arrest those on board this – the ship which is known as Spirit. We can’t comment on any of the individuals or the number of individual American citizens on board because of Privacy Act concern. Our Embassy has been in touch with the Israeli authorities. We have been told that the boat was stopped in Israeli waters and is being escorted to an Israeli port, or may have already gone to an Israeli port. We understand passengers are safe and all accounted for. We’re seeking consular access to the American citizens who are on board. And we don’t take any position regarding the Free Gaza Movement or any of its messages.

QUESTION: Anything on Mitchell-Barak meeting yesterday?

MR. KELLY: I think we issued a statement.

QUESTION: In addition to that?

MR. KELLY: Well, I think I’ll let the statement stand for itself.


(The briefing was concluded at 1:47 p.m.)
Comment by truth on July 3, 2009 at 2:40am
UN expert: Israeli seizure of Gaza-bound aid ship is 'criminal'
By Reuters
http://haaretz.com/hasen/spages/1097608.html
Comment by Tara on July 2, 2009 at 5:23pm
Thanks James, I'll have to listen later. I have to go to work soon and make some funny money, lol
Comment by truth on July 2, 2009 at 5:16pm
Jack Blood covering this NOW http://64.27.7.146:3032/listen.pls
Comment by truth on July 2, 2009 at 2:47pm

Ireland's Foreign Affairs Minister called for release of Irish act...

Thursday, 02 July 2009 18:17 Written by Free Gaza Team
"Ireland's Foreign Affairs Minister Micheál Martin today called for the swift release of two Irish nationals currently detained in Israel following the June 30 seizure of a boat en route to Gaza with humanitarian aid.

The two, Nobel Peace Prize winner Mairead Maguire and Derek Graham, are awaiting deportation following the seizure of vessel The Spirit of Humanity.

In a statement, Minister Martin said his department has been closely following the situation and was in ongoing contact with Israeli authorities.
Comment by truth on July 2, 2009 at 2:19pm
Activists vow to keep up Gaza trips despite Israel
01 Jul 2009 18:23:41 GMT
Source: Reuters
NICOSIA, July 1 (Reuters) - Pro-Palestinian activists vowed on Wednesday to continue to defy an Israeli navy blockade around Gaza, a day after Israel seized their boat and detained 21 people taking aid to the territory.

Israel boarded a small ferry carrying activists to Gaza on Tuesday, intercepting the vessel in Gaza's Israeli-controlled coastal waters. Those detained included an Irish peace laureate, a former member of the U.S. Congress and charity workers from Bahrain.

The activists, called the Free Gaza Movement, first started sending aid directly into Gaza in August 2008, but had been intercepted by the Israeli navy on two previous occasions.

The group would continue regardless of interceptions, said spokeswoman Greta Berlin.

"We are definitely going to go (back) even if we have to paddle across," she told journalists in Cyprus.

The activists had set off from Cyprus with humanitarian aid for Palestinians in Gaza, a territory ruled by Hamas Islamists. Israel tightened controls over Gaza, a sliver of territory of 1.5 million people, after Hamas took control there in 2007.

International calls for an end to the blockade have mounted after a 22 day Israeli offensive last December and January deepened hardship in the territory. Israel launched the military operation with the declared aim of ending cross-border rocket attacks.

Activists said they would continue to try to get aid directly to Gaza for as long as Israeli restrictions were in place. Israel says it is allowing aid to get through.

The International Committee of the Red Cross this week said stringent restrictions imposed by Israel are crippling reconstruction efforts.

"It is absolutely appalling how our small ships and a rag-tag band of activists has become the international conscience of what is happening there," said activist Ramzi Kyzia. "We are going to go, again and again." (Writing by Michele Kambas, editing by Richard Balmforth)
Comment by truth on July 1, 2009 at 9:52pm


July 1,  2009
Israel Kidnaps Peace Boat Crew
Pirates of the Mediterranean
By PAUL CRAIG ROBERTS

On June 30, the government of Israel committed an act of piracy when the Israeli Navy in international waters illegally boarded the 'Spirit of Humanity,' kidnapped its 21-person crew from 11 countries, including former US Congresswoman Cynthia McKinney and Nobel Laureate Mairead MaGuire, and confiscated the cargo of medical supplies, olive trees, reconstruction materials, and children's toys that were on the way to the Mediterranean coast of Gaza. The 'Spirit of Humanity,' along with the kidnapped 21 persons, is being towed to Israel as I write.
Gaza has been described as the 'world's largest concentration camp.'  It is home to 1.5 million Palestinians who were driven by force of American-supplied Israeli arms out of their homes, off their farms, and out of their villages so that Israel could steal their land and make the Palestinian land available to Israeli settlers.
What we have been witnessing for 60 years is a replay in modern times, despite the United Nations and laws strictly preventing Israel's theft of Palestine, of the 17th, 18th, and 19th century theft of American Indian lands by US settlers.  An Israeli government spokesman recently rebuked the President of the United States, a country, the Israeli said, who stole all of its land from Indians, for complaining about Israel's theft of Palestine.
I knew the 'Spirit of Humanity' would fall to Israeli piracy the minute I received on June 25 from an official of an Israeli peace organization a 'public advisory' that the government of Cyprus had withheld permission for the 'Spirit of Humanity' to leave for Gaza.  The US State Department had advised that 'The Israeli Foreign Ministry informed U.S. officials at the American Embassy in Tel Aviv that Israel still considers Gaza an area of conflict and that any boats attempting to sail to Gaza will not be permitted to reach its destination.' The 'Spirit of Humanity' obtained permission to leave Cyprus when all aboard signed a waiver absolving Cyprus of all responsibility for the crew's safety at the hands of the Israelis.
As President Obama has called for humanitarian aid to be sent to Gaza, and as the International Red Cross has damned the inhumanity of Israel's blockade of Gaza, the question that immediately comes to mind is why did not the United States send sufficient US Navy escort to see the 'Spirit of Humanity' safely through international waters to Gaza?  We send ships against Somalian pirates, why not against Israeli ones?
We all know the answer.  The US talks a good 'human rights' game, but never delivers--especially if the human rights abuser is Israel.  After all, Israel owns the US Congress and President Obama.  Israel even has an Israeli citizen and former member of the Israeli Defense Forces as the Chief-of-Staff in Obama's White House.  Israel owns millions of American 'Christian Zionists' and 'rapture evangelicans.' When it comes to Israel, the American government is a puppet state. It does what it is told.
Macho Americans might stand tall, but not when Israel snaps its fingers.
Israel, of course, will get away with a mere act of piracy.  After all, Israel has been getting away with its war crimes and violations of international law for 60 years.  If the UN tries to do anything, the US will veto it, as the US has done for decades.
What will happen to the kidnapped foreign nationals?  Most likely they will be released and sent back to their respective countries.  Israel, of course, will keep the stolen 'Spirit of Humanity' to foreclose any further attempts by human rights activists to run Israel's inhumane blockade of Gaza.
On the other hand, Israel might declare its captives to be terrorists on the ground that the Gazans elected in a free election Hamas as their government.  Hamas, unlike Israel, is declared to be a terrorist organization by the puppet American State Department in Washington.  Thus the human rights activists onboard the 'Spirit of Humanity' are aiding and abetting terrorists by delivering goods to them.  The US Department of Justice (sic) prosecutes American citizens and charities for sending aid to Palestinians on the grounds that Palestinians, if not everyone a terrorist, are governed by terrorists.
I wouldn't be surprised if a Nobel Laureate and a former member of the US House of Representatives, along with the rest of the crew, are handed over to the Americans for indefinite detention and for torturing and waterboarding in the American torture facility at Bagram.  I am certain that 'Homeland Security' and the US Government are desperate to be rid of all of critics, and knocking off a Nobel Laureate and a member of the House sets a precedent for getting rid of the rest of us.
Meanwhile, California, which has become a failed state, has been denied bailout money from Washington.  Israel, which has been a failed state for 60 years, can, unlike the American state of California, always count of Washington to deliver the money and the weapons to keep Israel going.
The same week that 'our' government in Washington told the Governor of California 'not one red cent,' President Barak Obama handed over $2.775 billion to Israel.
Online Journal (June 29) reported that the handover to Israel of the unemployed Americans' tax dollars took place in a 'tiny Capitol room' to which members of the press were denied access.  I mean, really, who wants the media writing about US taxpayer dollars for Israel's nuclear weapons while Americans are being kicked out of their homes.  Not that, of course, the 'Christian' supporters of Israel would mind.
Unlike every other recipient of US military largesse, Israel is permitted to bypass the Pentagon and to deal directly with US  suppliers.  Consequently, the Israel Lobby's influence multiplies, because military suppliers fight for Israel in congressional committees in order to get Israel's business. This lets Israel turn the screws on Iran.  According to Grant F. Smith writing in Online Journal, Republican US Representative Mark Steven from Illinois has received $221,000 in campaign contributions from Israel political action committees (PACs).  Therefore, it was a sure thing that he would introduce legislation preventing the Import-Export bank from providing loan guarantees to countries doing business with Iran. 
Americans think that they are a superpower, but in fact they are a stupor-power.  A puppet state if truth be known.
There is a great deal of evidence (see Jonathan Cook's excellent piece on this site yesterday) that Israel is a child abuser.  'God's Chosen People'  routinely abuses captured Palestinian children.  The Israelis also abuse Palestinian children by shooting them down in the streets.
Don't take my word for it. The Geneva-based Defense for Children International says, according to Time Magazine, that 'the ill-treatment and torture of Palestinian child prisoners appears to be widespread, systematic and institutionalized, suggesting complicity at all levels of the political and military chain of command.'
According to Time Magazine, 'Often, children suffer lasting traumas from jail.  Says Saleh Nazzal from the Palestinian Ministry of Prisoner Affairs, 'When soldiers burst into a house and drag away a child, he loses his feeling of being protected by his family.  He comes back from prison alienated from his family, his friends. They don't like going back to school or even leaving the house. They start wetting their beds.' Says Mona Zaghrout, a YMCA counselor who helps kids returning from prison: 'They come out of prison thinking and acting like they are men. Their childhood is gone.' And they often turn to another father figure--the armed militant groups fighting the Israeli occupation.''
And so it goes.  There's no money for California, or for Americans' health care, or for the several million Americans who have lost their homes and are homeless, because Israel needs it.  Israel need the Americans' taxpayers money to that it can create even more enemies, and, therefore, need more American money to spend with the American armament industries to oppress more Palestinians and to make more enemies, requiring more American money to protect Israel from its folly and its evil.
And the brainwashed American public goes along year after year.

Paul Craig Roberts was Assistant Secretary of the Treasury in the Reagan administration. He is coauthor of The Tyranny of Good Intentions.He can be reached at:
Comment by truth on July 1, 2009 at 8:04pm


Two released, 19 still imprisoned. Keep up the phone calls, emails, anger at what has happened. Remember 11,000 Palestinians also imprisoned
-
Adam Qvist and Adam Shapiro taken away in a truck for deportation. Mairead forcibly removed from rest of group in handcuffs. All isolated.about 9 hours ago
-
Passengers transferred to prison next to Ramle for illegal immigrants. The irony of it all. They will be tried for entering Israel illegally
-

Lubna and Huwaida on the media offensive in Ramallah. On Al Jazeera talking about being kidnapped. Other 19 passengers OK. Staying together

http://twitter.com/freegazaorg

---------------------
We are NOT the “Story”, It’s Not Just Our 21 Kidnapped Passengers
E-mail Print PDF

Wednesday, 01 July 2009 13:22 Written by Free Gaza Team
On June 30th 2009 Israeli Occupation Forces forcibly boarded the Free Gaza boat, SPIRIT OF HUMANITY, and kidnapped 21 human rights workers and journalists who were on their way to deliver much needed humanitarian and reconstruction supplies to besieged Gaza. Those abducted by Israel include Nobel peace prize laureate Mairead Maguire and former U.S. Congresswoman Cynthia McKinney.

Since their kidnapping, tens-of-thousands of people around the world have mobilized to demand their immediate and unconditional release. The Free Gaza Movement would like to thank everyone who has made a phone call, sent a fax or email, written a letter, or organized a demonstration on behalf of our 21 imprisoned friends.

With respect, it is not enough. We are not the story. Since its founding in 1948 the State of Israel has regularly kidnapped and tortured Palestinians, throwing them into forgotten prisons where they can languish for years. Today, over 11,000 Palestinian political prisoners without benefit of due process, some never even charged - men, women, and children - endure torture and isolation in Israeli jails, outdoor prison camps, and secret black sites. They come from all walks of life: doctors, journalists, parliamentarians, workers, resistance fighters, homemakers, students and others. They are our sisters and brothers.

The 21 passengers aboard the Spirit of Humanity have been illegally incarcerated for their solidarity work with Palestine. 11,000 other members of our common human family are already imprisoned simply for being Palestinian.

The Siege of Palestine is not simply the physical blockade against Gaza. The Siege includes the hundreds of checkpoints throughout the West Bank that separate families and communities and shatter any prospect for a viable Palestinian state. The Siege includes the millions of Palestinians in Diaspora, many of them dumped in squalid refugee camps in Jordan, Lebanon and elsewhere. The Siege is ever-present throughout all aspects of Palestinian life.

This Siege is only strengthened when we pay more attention to the injustice done to 21 international solidarity workers than we do to the much greater injustices already being committed against millions of Palestinians.

We in the Free Gaza Movement implore all the good people around the world who have working so hard to secure the release of our friends to "adopt" a Palestinian prisoner. We ask you to learn about the crisis and take on the cause of an individual prisoner as your own.

Break the Siege! Reach out to Palestine!

For more information, please visit FreeGaza.org, as well as the following prisoner information websites:

    * http://www.miftah.org/Display.cfm?DocId=7209&CategoryId=4
    * http://sumoud.tao.ca/?q=node/view/76
    * http://palestinianprisoners.blogspot.com/2009/04/palestinian-prison...
    * http://www.btselem.org/english/statistics/Detainees_and_Prisoners.asp ----

US remains silent over McKinney arrest by Israel

http://www.presstv.ir/detail.aspx?id=99532&sectionid=351020202

Nearly a day after the detention of former US lawmaker Cynthia McKinney by Israeli forces, Washington has yet to make a reaction.

Israeli Navy detained former US congresswoman and Nobel Prize laureate Cynthia McKinney and twenty other human rights activists on board a relief boat outside Israel's territorial waters on Tuesday as they were heading to Gaza on a humanitarian mission.

Tel Aviv claims the boat was trying to break Israel's two-year siege on Gaza.

Ms McKinney -- the 2008 Green Party nominee for President of the United States-- has accused Tel Aviv of violating the international law by seizing an aid vessel in international waters.

"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," McKinney said in a statement.

Green Party leaders have called on the White House and the US State Department to intervene and demand the immediate release of all the activists.

On Monday, the International Committee of the Red Cross warned of dire humanitarian situation in Gaza, saying 1.5 million Palestinians living in the coastal sliver are 'trapped in despair' because of the continuing Israeli blockade on the territory.

Since June 2007, when Israel imposed a blockade on the territory, no raw material has entered Gaza, stalling any attempt to rebuild the strip.

According to the humanitarian agency report, seriously ill patients were not receiving the treatment they needed and thousands of Gazans whose homes were destroyed during Israel's three-week Christmas war were still without shelter.
Comment by truth on June 30, 2009 at 4:51pm

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