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General News

Israeli Gunboats Came out of the Darkness and Rammed us Three Times

By Press Release  Posted by Kevin Gosztola (about the submitter)     Permalink
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opednews.com Headlined to H3 12/30/08

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(Lebanon, Tuesday 30 December) - Today the Free Gaza ship "Dignity"
carefully made its way to safe harbor in Tyre, Lebanon's southern-most port city, after receiving serious structural damage when Israeli warships rammed its bow and the port side. Waiting to greet the passengers and crew were thousands of Lebanese who came out to show their solidarity with this attempt to deliver volunteer doctors and desperately needed medical supplies to war-ravaged Gaza. The Lebanese government has pledged to provide a forensic analysis of what happened in the dark morning, when Israel rammed the civilian ship in international waters, and put the people on board in danger of losing their lives.
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The Dignity, on a mission of mercy to besieged Gaza, was attacked by the Israeli Navy at approximately 6am (UST) in international waters, roughly 90 miles off the coast of Gaza. Several Israeli warships surrounded the small, human rights boat, firing live ammunition around it, then intentionally ramming it three times. According to ship's captain Denis Healy, the Israeli attack came, ""without any warning, or any provocation."
Caoimhe Butterly, an organizer with the Free Gaza Movement, stated that, "The gunboats gave us no warning. They came up out of the darkness firing flares and flashing huge flood lights into our faces. We were so shocked that at first we didn't react. We knew we were well within international waters and supposedly safe from attack. They rammed us three times, hitting the side of the boat hard. We began taking on water and, for a few minutes, we all feared for our lives. After they rammed us, they started screaming at us as we were frantically getting the life boats ready and putting on our life jackets. They kept yelling that if we didn't turn back they would shoot us."
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Cynthia McKinney, former U.S. congresswoman and Green Party presidential candidate, was traveling to Gaza aboard the Dignity in order to assess the impact of Israel's military onslaught against the civilian population of the Gaza Strip. According to McKinney, "Israeli patrol boats...tracked us for about 30 minutes...and then all of a sudden they rammed us approximately three times, twice in the front and once in the side...the Israelis indicated that [they felt] we were involved in terrorist activities."
The Dignity departed from Larnaca Port in Cyprus at 7pm (UST) on Monday 29 December with a cargo of over 3 tons of desperately needed medical supplies donated to Gaza by the people of Cyprus. Three surgeons were also aboard, traveling to Gaza to volunteer in overwhelmed hospitals and clinics. The ship was searched by Cypriot Port authorities prior to departure, and its passenger list was made public.
Israel's deplorable attack on the unarmed Dignity is a violation of both international maritime law and the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea, which states that "the high seas should be reserved for peaceful purposes."
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Delivering doctors and urgently needed medical supplies to civilians is a just such a "peaceful purpose." Deliberately ramming a mercy ship and endangering its passengers is an act of terrorism.
CALL the Israeli Government and demand that it immediately STOP attacking the civilian population of Gaza and STOP using violence to prevent human rights and humanitarian assistance to the Palestinian people.
Mark Regev in the Prime Minister's office at:
+972 2670 5354 or +972 5 0620 3264
mark.regev@it.pmo.gov.il
Shlomo Dror in the Ministry of Defence at:
+972 3697 5339 or +972 50629 8148
mediasar@mod.gov.il
Major Liebovitz from the Israeli Navy at:
+ 972 5 781 86248
###
The Free Gaza Movement, a human rights group, sent two boats to Gaza in August 2008. These were the first international boats to land in the port in 41 years. Since August, four more voyages were successful, taking Parliamentarians, human rights workers, and other dignitaries to witness the effects of Israel's draconian policies on the civilians of Gaza.
http://www.FreeGaza.org
AN EARLIER RELEASE
December 29, 2008 11:26:20 PM CST

URGENT! Israeli Navy Attacking Civilian Mercy Ship! TAKE ACTION IMMEDIATELY!

The Dignity, a Free Gaza boat on a mission of mercy to besieged Gaza, is
being attacked by the Israeli Navy in international waters. The Dignity
has been surrounded by at least half-a-dozen Israeli warships. They are
firing live ammunition around the Dignity, and one of the warships has
rammed the civilian craft causing an unknown amount of damage. Contrary to
international maritime law, the Israelis are actively preventing the
Dignity from approaching Gaza or finding safe haven in either Egypt or
Lebanon. Instead, the Israeli navy is demanding that the Dignity return to
Cyprus - despite the fact that the ship does not carry enough fuel to do
so. Fortunately, no one aboard the ship has yet been seriously injured.

There are 15 civilian passengers representing 11 different countries (see
below for a complete list). At approximately 5am (UST), well out in
international waters, Israeli warships began surrounding the Dignity,
threatening the ship. At 6:45am (UST) we were able to establish brief
contact with the crew and were told that the ship had been rammed by the
Israeli Navy in international waters, and that the Israelis were
preventing the ship from finding safe harbor. We heard heavy gunfire in
the background before all contact was lost with the Dignity.

It is urgent that you TAKE IMMEDIATE ACTION!

CALL the Israeli Government and demand that it immediately STOP attacking
the Dignity and endangering the lives of its passengers!

CALL Mark Regev in the Prime Minister's office at:
+972 2670 5354 or +972 5062 3264
mark.regev@it.pmo.gov.il

CALL Shlomo Dror in the Ministry of Defence at:
+972 33697 5339 or +972 50629 8148
mediasar@mod.gov.il

BACKGROUND INFORMATION
The Dignity departed from Larnaca Port in Cyprus at 7pm (UST) on Monday 29
December, bound for war-devastated Gaza with a cargo of over 3 tons of
desperately needed medical supplies donated by the people of Cyprus. At
our request, the ship was searched by Cypriot Port authorities prior to
departure, to certify that there was nothing "threatening" aboard - only
emergency medical supplies.

TAKE ACTION IMMEDIATELY TO STOP THE ISRAELI NAVY FROM ENDANGERING THE
DIGNITY AND ITS PASSENGERS!

Civilians aboard the Dignity being threatened by the Israeli military:

(UK) Denis Healey, Captain
Captain of the Dignity, Denis has been involved with boats for 45 years,
beginning with small fishing boats in Portsmouth. He learned to sail while
atschool and has been part of the sea ever since. He's a certified
yachtmaster and has also worked on heavy marine equipment from yachts to
large dredgers. This is his fourth trip to Gaza.

(Greece) Nikolas Bolos, First Mate
Nikolas is a chemical engineer and human rights activist. He has served as
a crewmember on several Free Gaza voyages, including the first one in
August.

(Jordan) Othman Abu Falah
Othman is a senior producer with Al-Jazeera Television. He will remain in
Gaza to report on the ongoing military onslaught.

(Australia) Renee Bowyer
Renee is a schoolteacher and human rights activist. She will remain in
Gaza to do human rights monitoring and reporting.

(Ireland) Caoimhe Butterly
Caoimhe is a reknowned human rights activist and Gaza Coordinator for the
Free Gaza Movement. She will be remaining in Gaza to do human rights
monitoring, assist with relief efforts, and work on project development
with Free Gaza.

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