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Israeli attack on peace activist boat unacceptable

1 July, 2009

Sinn Féin Councillor Gerry MacLochlainn who has just returned from Gaza has described the Israeli government’s decision to board and hijack a peace boat en-route to Gaza carrying medical aid as contemptible. Councillor MacLochlainn added; “The piracy of the Israeli Navy in boarding the boat in international waters and towing it towards Israel is yet another astounding example of just how beyond reproach this administration believes it is.” A previous boat Free Gaza the Dignity was rammed in December on another humanitarian trip after Israel launched its renewed military offensive against the Palestinian people in Gaza.

Councillor MacLochlainn said:

“The passengers and crew of the ‘Spirit of Humanity’ boat are peace activists and human rights workers from 11 countries.

"Even before Israel’s military attack throughout Christmas and the New Year, over half of Gaza was without electricity because of Israel’s refusal to allow fuel into the city. Israel’s ongoing blockade of fuel, food and medical supplies had brought the city to its knees clearly softening the city up for its ferocious attack which destroyed the city and left thousands dead and wounded.

“Israel needs to understand there are political and economic consequences for its crimes against Gaza and its people, and European leaders need to step up and make their voice heard. Slowly starving an entire nation, blocking medical, humanitarian and reconstruction aid is contrary to international law and human rights and needs to be opposed. If nothing else this should be another signal to European leaders to immediately end all EU-Israeli trade agreements.

“European leaders need to demand the immediate release of those aboard the Spirit of Humanity and Israel's adherence to all UN Resolutions on the region. Just last week Foreign Affairs Minister Micheál Martin noted, ‘Some key issues relating to Gaza remain to be dealt with. The humanitarian crisis is ongoing and is altogether unacceptable in terms of the failure to open up crossings and allow the free flow of aid.’ The time for rehetoric is long past it is now time governments acted.

“In the absence of Israel ceasing it human rights violations against Gaza and political leader’s refusal to toughen up their stance and move from words to action it has been left to civilian activists like those aboard the Spirit of Humanity to get aid to the city.”

"I call on the Irish government and on other EU states to demand the release of Irish and other citizens illegally arrested in international waters, that the confiscated humanitarian aid on board, (medicine, toys, olive trees and cement) which had been cleared by the customs of another EU country, Cyprus, be returned and that the boat be released and allowed proceed on its way.”


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