Blocking Freedom Marcher/Viva Palestina Aid to Gaza - by Stephen Lendman
Since Israel isolated Gaza under siege in mid-2007, it's blocked essential humanitarian aid from entering, including:
-- on December 1, 2008, when its warships stopped a Libyan cargo vessel several kilometers from Gaza, ordering it back to El-Arish, Egypt or be attacked; it was carrying 1,200 tons of rice, 750 tons of milk, 500 tons of oil, 500 tons of flour, and 100 tons of medicines;
-- on December 15, 2008 when the Spirit of Humanity carrying five tons of aid and 21 passengers, including three volunteer surgeons, was intercepted at sea, 100 miles from Gaza, and warned to turn back to Larnaca, Cyprus or be assaulted; and
-- on June 30, 2009, the Free Gaza Movement's Spirit of Humanity was intercepted and boarded 23 miles off Gaza's coast; its aid cargo and 21 human rights activists were seized, including Nobel laureate Mairead Maguire and former Congresswoman Cynthia McKinney; they were threatened and forcibly taken to Israel's southern port of Ashdod, held incommunicado under horrific conditions one passenger described as a "horror movie....in a warehouse, where we slept on a cockroach-infested cement floor as armed soldiers" stood guard; all their personal possessions were confiscated, and a day later two of them were taken to Ashdod's central bus station with no money or belongings; the others were arrested and treated like criminals.
Cynthia McKinney described her ordeal as prisoner number 88794 at Ramle prison, known as one of Israel's harshest - a former British police station, overcrowded, "stinking," many inside with no bed, everyone confined to tiny areas, some in isolation with no sunlight, and a series of dungeons six feet long, three feet wide, and six feet high that are dark, filthy, unbearable to be in, and those inside are stripped naked, beaten, unable to shower, given a thin coverall, and allowed to use the toilet once a day only.
McKinney had a suitcase with crayons for children. Others had medical and building supplies. Authorities tried to get her to confess to a crime. She refused so was treated harshly. She called Ramle:
"incredibly black: populated mostly by Ethiopians who also had a dream," were en route to Israel for it, yet were denied and then imprisoned. She and 14 others were held in a 7 by 7 meter cell in Israel's summer heat, searched twice daily, but said it's nothing to how Palestinians are treated.