Israeli Navy rams peace boat: NI Nobel laureate seized
My old friend, former colleague and Nobel Peace Prize winner Mairead Maguire was among the peace and justice activists aboard a Greek cargo ship intercepted, rammed and boarded by the Israeli navy yesterday.
The Amnesty office in Belfast took a call from Mairead just as the boat had been boarded: she was anxious to get the word out to Amnesty researchers and the wider world.
The ship was carrying humanitarian aid cargo for the residents of Gaza in a bid to break the Israeli military blockade which has been in operation since June 2007; a response to the rise in power of Hamas. Since then, the sanctions have made it incredibly difficult to get the bare essentials to the population, such as food, fuel, and medicine.
Mairead said: "The aid we were carrying is a symbol of hope for the people of Gaza, hope that the sea route would open for them, and they would be able to transport their own materials to begin to reconstruct the schools, hospitals and thousands of homes destroyed during the onslaught."
This is an outrageous violation of international law against us. Our boat was not in Israeli waters, and we were on a human rights mission to the Gaza Strip, said former US congresswoman Cynthia McKinney in a statement shortly after she and the other activists were turned over to immigration authorities in Ashdod.
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