Free Gaza to Israel: 'We Are Coming In On Tuesday'

For Immediate Release

Free Gaza Movement
Contact: 

(Cyprus) Huwaida Arraf, +357 96 723 999 or +357 99 081 767 huwaida.arraf@gmail.com
(Gaza) Ewa Jasiewicz, +972 598 700 497 freelance@mailworks.org
(Egypt) Caoimhe Butterly, +20 121 027 072 sahara78@hotmail.co.uk
(U.S.) Ramzi Kysia, +1 703 994 5422 rrkysia@yahoo.com

Free Gaza to Israel: 'We Are Coming In On Tuesday'

LARNACA, Cyprus - 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.

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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.

CALL
Mark Regev
in the Prime Minister's office:
+972 2670 5354 or +972 5 0620 3264
mark.regev@it.pmo.gov.il

Shlomo Dror in the Ministry of Defence:
+972 3697 5339 or +972 50629 8148
mediasar@mod.gov.il

Major Liebovitz from the Israeli Navy:
+ 972 5 781 86248

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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

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