12 January 2009 14:43:45 GMT



For More Information, Please Contact:
(Cyprus/Gaza) Huwaida Arraf, +972 599 130 426
(Gaza) Ewa Jasiewicz, +972 598 700 497
(U.S.) Ramzi Kysia, +1 703 994 5422

(Cyprus, 11 January 2009) – The Free Gaza Movement ship, “SPIRIT OF HUMANITY,” left Larnaca Port at 3:00 pm, Monday, 12 January, on an emergency mission to besieged Gaza. It is expected to arrive in Gaza at approximately 11am (UST) Tuesday morning. Aboard the ship are 36 passengers and crew, representing 17 different nations. They are doctors, journalists, human rights workers, and five European parliamentarians representing Belgium, Greece, Italy, and Spain (see below for a complete passenger list). The mercy ship also carries desperately needed medical supplies meant for hospitals in the Gaza Strip.
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For More Information, Please Contact:

(Cyprus) Huwaida Arraf, +357 96 723 999 or +357 99 081 767

(Gaza) Ewa Jasiewicz, +972 598 700 497

(Egypt) Caoimhe Butterly, +20 121 027 072

(U.S.) Ramzi Kysia, +1 703 994 5422

(Cyprus, 11 January 2009) – 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.
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The Newsletter of the Free Gaza Movement, 5 January, 2008

5 January, 2009

Violence Even Against Emergency Boat

Death and destruction is Israel’s current Gaza policy. More than 500 have been killed since the massacre started, and a ground offensive began, while countries like Germany officially justify the slaughtering by saying that the Zionist state is defending itself and that Hamas is the only one to blame. The Free Gaza Movement takes a stand for occupied Palestine and does not believe that the war on Gaza is a defense or in any way constructive or justified. The Gaza Community Mental Health Programme, for example, one of the three civil society organisations which were the first to offcially invite the Free Gaza Movement to Gaza, was largely destroyed by Israeli F16 airplanes.
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GazaFriends: FG Update and Call to Action

Dear Friends of Gaza,

On Monday, December 29 we sent our small ship, the DIGNITY, to besieged Gaza in an act of civil resistance against Israel’s ongoing massacre and blockade. We attempted to bring doctors, journalists, human rights workers and over three tons of emergency medical aid to the suffering people of Gaza in the midst of the worst attacks against them in over 40 years.  In a cowardly act of aggression the Israeli navy deliberately, repeatedly, and without warning rammed our unarmed ship, causing significant structural damage and endangering the lives of our passengers and crew. For CNN’s coverage of the incident, see the video. This was an act of terror meant to prevent us from accessing the people of Gaza. We will not be intimidated. We will not let Israel’s terror tactics stop us from trying to reach the people of Gaza and doing all that we can to directly confront and challenge Israel’s violence against the Palestinian people and ongoing affront to humanity.
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Gaza Friends: Oh What a Day! by Cynthia McKinney

30 December, 2008

I‘m so glad that my father told me to buy a special notebook and to write everything down because that’s exactly what I did.

When we left from Cyprus, one reporter asked me “are you afraid?” And I had to respond that Malcolm X wasn’t afraid; Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. wasn’t afraid. But little did I know that just a few hours later, I would be recollecting my life and mentally preparing myself for death.

When we left Cyprus, the Mediterranean was beautiful. I remember the time when it might have been beautiful to look at, but it was also filthy. The Europeans have taken great strides to clean it up and yesterday, it was beautiful. And the way the sunlight hit the sea, I remember thinking to myself that’s why they call it azure. It was the most beautiful blue.
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NOT content with committing war crimes and human rights atrocities in full view of the world, Israel has now confirmed itself as a rogue state by launching into international piracy.


The SS Dignity

Dawn had not yet broken over the Mediterranean waters in which the SS Dignity was sailing when an Israeli naval gunboat appeared from the inky black and rammed the aid-bearing ship. The act of aggression on a peace mission was launched in international waters 90 miles off Gaza, without any warning to the captain of the Dignity or the crew.

Israel claimed the incident was an accident and that its naval officers had made numerous attempts to communicate with the Dignity. It was an accident that was to repeat itself three times.
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GazaFriends: – Israeli Gunboats Came out of the Darkness and Rammed us Three Times

(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.

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.”
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Ha’aretz: Pro-Palestinian activists say Navy fired on protest boat off Gaza shore

An Israel Navy ship clashed on Tuesday with a small boat carrying international activists with aid destined for Gaza, an Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesman said.

There were no reported casualties from the incident involving the small cabin cruiser “Dignity” that sailed from Cyprus late on Monday.

Israel has declared the coastal territory a closed military zone and said the Free Gaza Movement boat would not be permitted to dock.

Yigal Palmor, a spokesman for Israel’s Foreign Ministry, said the boat failed to respond to Israeli naval radio contact, and that an Israeli vessel “clashed with the ship.”

Free Gaza Movement told Reuters their boat, carrying 3.5 tons of medical aid with 16 people aboard, was rammed and shot at while in international waters about 70-80 miles off Gaza by Israeli naval vessel.

Palmor denied there had been any shooting although the two ships made “physical contact.” He said no one had been hurt and that the Israeli ship escorted the aid boat back to Cypriot territorial waters.

Israel has declared areas around the Gaza Strip a “closed military zone” after it launched an aerial offensive in the coastal territory on Hamas targets on Saturday, in which 345 Palestinians have been killed.

Free Gaza Movement said their boat was safe, but had sustained damage.


Mary Hughes-Thompson
Free Gaza Movement
Cyprus Media Team
+357 96 75 00 59

GazaFriends: Israeli Navy attacks and wounds Dignity in International Waters


For more information, please contact:
(Gaza) Ewa Jasiewicz, +972 598 700 497 /

(Cyprus) Lubna Masarwa +357 99 081 767 /

(U.S.) Greta Berlin, +1 310 422 7242 /

(Larnaca, Cyprus, 10:00 am) On Tuesday, December 30, at 5 a.m., several Israeli gunboats intercepted the Dignity as she was heading on a mission of mercy to Gaza. One gunboat rammed into the boat on the port bow side, heavily damaging her. The reports from the passengers and journalists on board is that she is taking on water and appears to have engine problems. When attacked, the Dignity was clearly in international waters, 90 miles off the coast of Gaza.

The gunboats also fired their machine guns into the water in an attempt to stop the mercy ship from getting to Gaza.

As the boat limps toward Lebanon, passengers have been in contact with the Lebanese government who have said the captain has permission to dock and are willing lend assistance if needed. Cyprus sea rescue has also been in touch, and has offered assistance as well. The Dignity clearly flies the flag of Gibraltar, is piloted by an English captain and has a passenger manifest that includes Representative Cynthia McKinney from the U.S. The attack was filmed by the journalists, and the crew and passengers will report on Israel’s crime at sea once they arrive in Lebanon.

On board the boat are doctors traveling to this impoverished slice of the Mediterranean to provide badly-needed relief at the hospitals there. The crew and passengers were also hoping to take wounded out for treatment, since the hospitals are not coping. In addition, the Dignity was carrying 3 tons of medical supplies at the request of the doctors in Gaza.

The three physicans on board who were sailing to Gaza are: Dr. Halpin (UK), an experienced orthopaedic surgeon, medical professor, and ship’s captain. He has organized humanitarian relief efforts in Gaza on several occasions with the Dove and Dolphin. He is traveling to Gaza to volunteer in hospitals and clinics. Dr. Mohamed Issa (Germany), a pediatric surgeon from Germany is traveling to Gaza to volunteer in hospitals and clinics. Dr. Elena Theoharous (Cyprus), MP Dr. Theoharous is a surgeon and a Member of the Cypriot Parliament. She is traveling to Gaza to assess the ongoing conflict, assist with humanitarian relief efforts, and volunteer in hospitals.

Yet Israel thumbs its nose in the face of maritime law by attacking a human rights boat in international waters and has put all of these human rights observers at risk. At no time was the Dignity ever close to Israeli waters. They clearly identified themselves and the Israeli attack was willful and criminal.

The Dignity is still in international waters, 40 miles off Haifa. Everybody on board is safe at the moment as the boat slowly makes its way to safety in Lebanon.


SS Dignity badly damaged by Israeli Navy fire

The boat is badly damaged, and it is, in fact, heading toward Lebanon, so your email and your plea is good timing, Steve. They may need help

On Mon, Dec 29, 2008 at 10:48 PM, steve greaves wrote:

Dear Spokesperson Yasmina Bouziane
United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon
Tel.: +961 1 827 037 (office); +961 7092 6950 (cell)
I just received email below, which indicates there may NOT be an immediate need for rescue.
Thank you kindly for your alertness and consideration.
For your information, there is a copy of the PRESS RELEASE below concerning the departure of the SS Dignity from Cyprus with humanitarian supplies for the people of Gaza under Israeli siege.
Steve Greaves

Subject: RE: URGENT! Israeli Navy Attacking Civilian Mercy Ship! TAKE ACTION IMMEDIATELY!

Date: Monday, December 29, 2008, 10:21 PM

I got this word:
Latest report: the Israeli Navy claims they didn’t know it was an aid ship and they are now allowing them in.  The report is in the video section of CNN.


GazaFriends Update: All is well

The boat arrived this morning at 7:30, schussing through the water, white caps on either side. Osama, Mary and I were at the dock to greet the returnees, again thrilled to see them on deck. This time, 29 people returned, either of them Palestinians from Gaza. Dr. Mona was on board on her way to see her daughter and brother, Musheir, in the UK. Three students came, thrilled to be going to the universities that had granted them entrance.

A union organizer was also on board. The older couple on their way to Germany had come with gifts for their family. The mother did not know that her son had flown in to greet them. She was bowled over when he came around the corner and said, “Hi Mom”. It had been years since they had seen him.

As far as the organizers are concerned, we’re tired and need a break. Two trips in two weeks was a strain on all of us. But, watching the smile on the face of the mother was worth all of our sleepless nights, long days, constant phone calls and worry.

The Parliamentarians begin to go home today. The Palestinian students fly out tomorrow and the next day. Only a few of us will remain to take care of the boat (Derek, Denis, Theresa and Nicos) and the debriefing (Mary, me, Huwaida, Ramzi, David). The photos that I took will be posted shortly.

Greta Berlin
Media Team
Free Gaza Movement
357 99 08 17 67