(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:
Also see: Photos from Free Gaza sailing