Cynthia Mckinney Does it AgainJuly 2, 2009 - 9:59 PM | by: David Lewkowict
Former United States Congresswoman from the state of Georgia and Green Party Presidential candidate remains detained in Givon prison in Ramla, Israel.
McKinney was aboard the Greek flagged humanitarian relief boat Spirit of Humanity when it was seized by the Israeli Navy.
In a statement released by the Green Part, McKinney says in part:
“We were in international waters on a boat delivering humanitarian aid to people in Gaza when the Israeli Navy ships surrounded us and illegally threatened us, dismantled our navigation equipment, boarded and confiscated the ship.”
“Immigration officials in Israel said they did not want to keep us, but we remain imprisoned,”
“State Department and White House officials have not effected our release or taken a strong public stance to condemn the illegal actions of the Israeli Navy of enforcing a blockade of humanitarian assistance to the Palestinians of Gaza, a blockade that has been condemned by President Obama.”
Two of the 21 activist detained have been released – both Israeli citizens.
This was the second incident involving Mckinney, and the Israeli navy. In December 2008 she was aboard another relief boat seized for violating the Israeli blockade. This the first time that longtime supporter of Palestinians has been detained.
A boat carrying humanitarian aid and pro-Palestinian activists was intercepted Tuesday off the Israeli controlled Gaza coast.
Israel’s Navy boarded the vessel and took it to the southern port town of Ashdod.
Flying the Greek flag, the boat launched from Lanarca Cyprus, with members of the U.S. based Free Gaza movement on a mission to deliver humanitarian aid to the Hamas controlled territory.
According to the Free Gaza movement former U.S Congresswoman Cynthia Mckinney (D-GA) and Nobel peace prize laureate Mairead Maguire were among 20 passengers on board.
This is an outrageous violation of international law against us,” said McKinney. “Our boat was not in Israeli waters and we were on a human rights mission to the Gaza Strip. President Obama just told Israel to let in humanitarian and reconstruction supplies, and that’s exactly what we tried to do. We’re asking the international community to demand our release so we can resume our journey.”
In December Mckinney was among 16 people attempting a similar mission.
This is the third time the Israeli Navy has intercepted Free Gaza activists attempting to sail into the Palestinian territory.
“Yesterday evening the Israeli navy contacted the boat while at sea clarifying that it would not be permitted to enter Gaza coastal waters because of security risks in the area, and existing naval blockade.” according to the military.
In 2007, after Hamas gained control of the narrow strip of land, home to some 1.5 million people, Israel tightened its blockade of Gaza.
Mark Regev, spokesperson for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, said “Israel every day is allowing humanitarian support to reach the people of Gaza.” He added, ” This boat was not about that , this boat was about political activists who have been apologists for the Hamas regime.”
Greta Berlin, with the Free Gaza movement in Cyprus, said Israel’s actions amounted to theft of the boat and kidnapping of the passengers.
Greek authorities have demanded the Israeli government immediately release the vessel , it’s crew and passengers. No Greek citizens were on board.
“Nobody wants to keep them here,” said Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesman Yigal Palmor. He said, “They will be released as soon as they are checked.”