At 1:40 am (local time), the Israeli Navy surrounded the SPIRIT while it is on its way to the Gaza Strip. We got a call from the boat saying that they were being threatened, told to turn back or they would be fired on.
Huwaida Arraf, one of the delegation leaders, was on the phone with the Israeli gunboats, and we could hear her saying, "You Cannot Open Fire on Unarmed Civilians" several times. At this writing, they are surrounded by several ships shining bright lights into the SPIRIT.
750PM EST 6/29/09
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We just heard from the people on board the boat. The Israeli navy is jamming the radio and preventing navigation systems from working. This action is in direct violation of International and Maritime law.
If anything happens to the boat or its passengers, it will be the direct result of Israel's aggressive response to a civilian boat taking unarmed passengers to Gaza. The Free Gaza Movement holds the government of Israel responsible for the safety and security of the passengers on board the SPIRIT.
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We would like to emphasize that the boat is in international waters, and, as such, falls under the protection of international law.
We just spoke to the passengers. Everyone is OK, but the situation is still very tense. They continue to be surrounded by Israeli warships which are threatening to open fire. The Israeli Navy is actively jamming all navigation systems in violation of international maritime law, endangering the people on board.
Former U.S. Congresswoman, Cynthia McKinney, speaking from on board the SPIRIT, stated, "I am extremely angry. We demand that the Israeli government call off their attack dogs. We are unarmed civilians aboard an unarmed boat delivering medical and reconstruction aid to other human beings in Gaza. Why in God's name would Israel want to attack us and threaten our safety and welfare. I call on President Obama and the international community to intervene now to prevent this situation from escalating with potentially drastic results to the civilians on board."
Since the boat's navigation equipment is being jammed, it has turned westward in order to stay in international waters.The Captain and crew are working from the most ancient of navigation equipment...the compass to stay clear of Israeli waters.
CALL or FAX Major Liebovitz from the Israeli Navy at:
Tel + 972 5 781 86248 or +972 3737 7777 or +972 3737 6242
Fax +972 3737 6123 or +972 3737 7175
CALL Mark Regev in the Prime Minister's office at:
Cynthia Ann McKinney (born March 17, 1955) is a former United States Representative and the 2008 Green Party nominee for President of the United States. McKinney served as a Democrat in the U.S. House of Representatives from 1993 2003 and 2005 2007, (more...)