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Monday 29th December 2008
(Larnaca, Cyprus 29 December 2008) – There is a time when silence is complicity and inaction is unacceptable. On Saturday, December 27, Israel began Operation “Cast Lead,” a military onslaught against the civilian population of the Gaza Strip that has – so far – massacred more than three-hundred men, women, and children, and seriously injured over a thousand.
In response to Israeli butchery, the Free Gaza ship, the DIGNITY, will depart Larnaca Port at approximately 5pm (UTC), on Monday, December 29, bound for besieged Gaza. The ship is on an emergency mission carrying in physicians, human rights workers and over three tons of desperately needed medical supplies donated by the people of Cyprus. Coordinating with the Gaza Ministry of Health, the doctors will be immediately posted to overburdened hospitals and clinics upon their arrival.
We are not asking Israel for “permission” to go, and we will not stop until the DIGNITY lands in Gaza. We are answering urgent calls from hospitals and health care workers in Gaza by taking in three physicians who will stay and work in Gaza for several weeks. We will hold Israel responsible for the safety of our passengers and our cargo of emergency medicine.
Even before the present Israeli blitzkrieg, Karen Koning Abu Zayd, head of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA), asserted that, “Gaza is on the threshold of becoming the first territory to be intentionally reduced to a state of abject destitution, with the knowledge, acquiescence and – some would say – encouragement of the international community.”
Ewa Jasiewicz, a Free Gaza organizer living in Gaza, agreed with Abu Zayd, saying: “Where is the United Nations? Where is the Arab League? Where is the outrage against Israeli cruelty and Egyptian complicity? Every hospital in Gaza is already overwhelmed. Israel is committing war crimes here in Gaza, and words of condemnation are no longer enough. The world must act now to stop this madness.”
The Free Gaza Movement continues to do what the governments of the world will not do – take direct action to defend the health, lives, and dignity of 1.5 million Palestinians under siege in the Gaza Strip.
This catastrophe is still unfolding, and humanitarian needs in Gaza are quite literally devastating. The world can no longer stay silent as the Palestinian people are deliberately massacred, starved and humiliated. We have to create a new consciousness that turns the practice of human rights from rhetoric into reality. Palestinians have an inalienable right to live, and the undeniable right to a life with dignity.
The passengers on this Free Gaza emergency delegation include:
* International humanitarian and human rights workers from Cyprus, Australia, Ireland, Great Britain, Tunisia, and the United States.
* Doctors going to Gaza to volunteer in local hospitals, including Dr. Elena Theoharous, surgeon and Member of Parliament from Cyprus.
* Journalists going to Gaza to report on the massacre, including Al-Jazeera reporter Sami al-Haj, a former detainee at Guantanamo Bay.
* The Hon. Cynthia McKinney, former U.S. Congresswoman and Green Party presidential candidate.
For more information, please contact:
(Gaza) Ewa Jasiewicz, +972 598 700 497 / [email protected]
(Cyprus) Lubna Masarwa +357 99 081 767 / [email protected]
(U.S.) Greta Berlin, +1 310 422 7242 / [email protected]
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, physicians, and other dignitaries to witness the effects of Israel’s draconian policies on the civilians of Gaza.