For Immediate Release
Gaza Siege Challenged by Sea
WASHINGTON - Reuters reports today: "International activists departed from Cyprus by boat on Friday in an attempt to run an Israeli sea blockade on 1.4 million Palestinians in Gaza. The 44 activists sailed from the port of Larnaca in two wooden boats ... Hailing from 14 countries, they said they expected to reach the shores of Gaza, patrolled by the Israeli navy, on Saturday."
A recent article in the Israeli newspaper Haaretz was headlined "Israel may use force to halt boat trying to break Gaza siege."
Passengers on the boats are available for interviews via satellite phones.
Among the activists:
HUWAIDA ARRAF, a human rights activist and co-founder of the International Solidarity Movement, teaches human rights law at Al-Quds University in Jerusalem. Arraf said today: "Israel claims Gaza is free, but it controls Gaza by air, sea and land, prevents the people of Gaza from traveling and trading and forces them to try to exist on handouts. Israel is preventing the Palestinians from getting crucial things like upkeep of the sewage system, so there's a threat of waterborne diseases. Two hundred Palestinians in Gaza have died because they could not leave Gaza to get the medical care they needed."
LAUREN BOOTH, a journalist and broadcaster, is a sister-in-law of former British Prime Minister Tony Blair.
JEFF HALPER, an Israeli professor of anthropology, is coordinator of the Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions.
Arraf, Booth and Halper were interviewed while en route to Gaza this morning on the program "Democracy Now."
Also available for interviews are:
Chairman of the , El-Khoudary is an independent member of the Palestinian parliament.
Epstein, an 84-year-old survivor of the Nazi Holocaust, was unable for medical reasons to go on the boats as she had planned. She is returning to the U.S. from Cyprus. Epstein is author of Remembering Is Not Enough: The Autobiography of Hedy Epstein.