FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Date : 12-30-2008
For more information, please contact: (Gaza) Ewa Jasiewicz, +972 598 700 497 / firstname.lastname@example.org
(Cyprus) Lubna Masarwa +357 99 081 767 / email@example.com
(U.S.) Greta Berlin, +1 310 422 7242 / firstname.lastname@example.org
(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.
See also these related media pieces:
FREE GAZA IN THE MEDIA (UPDATE)
(30.12.2008) Media Clipping Service: The Free Gaza Movement. The following list is a collection of media responses to the Free Gaza Movement’s boat trips from Cyprus to Gaza available on the internet. The list is steadily updated. It is not comprehensive, but covers most of the relevant articles and some audios and videos, also for non-English coverage. Not every item can be posted to the Free Gaza website, so here you have access to the bulk of the coverage. Follow the link below to open the PDF document. http://www.freegaza.org/uploads/media/free_gaza_in_the_media.pdf
http://edition.cnn.com/video/#/video/world/2008/12/29/penhaul.gaza.bpr.boat.cnn Aid boat hit — An Israel patrol vessel collides with a boat on an aid mission to Gaza. CNN’s Karl Penhaul is aboard.
Israel accused of ramming Gaza aid ship — http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2008/dec/30/israel-gaza-aid-ship
* Mark Tran, guardian.co.uk, Tuesday 30 December 2008
Activists trying to bring aid to Gaza today claimed their boat had been rammed by Israeli gunboats in a “criminal attack” in international waters.
The Free Gaza Movement said its vessel, the Dignity, was intercepted by several Israeli vessels as it was heading to the Gaza Strip, which has been under Israeli aerial bombardment since Saturday.
… The Dignity is still in international waters, 40 miles off Haifa, and is making its way slowly to Lebanon. The ship flies the flag of Gibraltar, is piloted by an English captain and its passenger list includes Cynthia McKinney, a former US congresswoman.
Passengers List (Dignity has left Cyprus) 12-29-2008
(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) Giorgios Klontzas, Relief Captain Cpt. Klontzas is an experienced sailor and human rights activist. This will be 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.
(Cyprus) Ekaterini Christodulou Ekaterini is a well-known and respected freelance journalist in Cyprus. She is traveling to Gaza to report on the conflict.
(Sudan) Sami El-Haj Sami is a former detainee at Guantánamo Bay, and head of the human rights section at Al-Jazeera Television. He will remain in Gaza to report on the ongoing military onslaught.
(UK) Dr. David Halpin Dr. Halpin is 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.
(Germany) Dr. Mohamed Issa Dr. Issa is a pediatric surgeon from Germany. He is traveling to Gaza to volunteer in hospitals and clinics.
(UK/Tunisia) Fathi Jaouadi Fathi is a television producer and human rights activist. He will remain in Gaza to do human rights monitoring and reporting.
(USA) Cynthia McKinney Cynthia is a former U.S. Congresswoman from Georgia, and the 2008 Green Party presidential candidate. She is traveling to Gaza to assess the ongoing conflict.
(Cyprus) Martha Paisi Martha is a senior research fellow and experienced human rights activist. She is traveling to Gaza to do human rights work and to assist with humanitarian relief efforts.
(UK) Karl Penhaul Karl Penhaul is a video correspondent for CNN, based out of Bogotá, Colombia. Appointed to this position in February 2004, he covers breaking news around the world utilizing CNN’s new laptop-based ‘Digital Newsgathering’ system. He is traveling to Gaza to report on the ongoing conflict.
(Iraq) Thaer Shaker Thaer is a cameraman with Al-Jazeera television. He will remain in Gaza to report on the ongoing military onslaught.
(Cyprus) Dr. Elena Theoharous, 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.
IMMEDIATE & URGENT DONATIONS NEEDED: Donations received from generous supporters so far amount to $436K, we need $218K more in donations just to break even, and more to pay for future boat trips to Gaza.