Tuesday, December 9, 2008

'Free Gaza' Ship to Break Through Israeli Blockade for the Fourth Time


"(LARNACA, 8 December 2008) - The Free Gaza Movement announced today that it would send a delegation from Cyprus to Gaza aboard their blockade-busting ship, the Dignity, at 11pm, Monday, 8 December. The Free Gaza Movement has successfully challenged the siege on three previous occasions this year, landing missions in Gaza in August, October, and November. Free Gaza ships are the first to dock in Gaza Port in over 41 years.

Israel maintains absolute control over Gaza's borders and airspace, and has imposed an increasingly brutal blockade on its 1.5 million civilians for over two years, drastically increasing poverty and malnutrition rates. Over 700 students are currently trapped in Gaza, while Israel denies their right to attend universities abroad.

In a statement released by Drs. Jonathan Rosenhead Mike Cushman, of the London School of Economics, the academics stated that they were pleased to be traveling to Gaza aboard the Dignity, and that, "This siege is an affront to any idea of academic freedom or human rights. We, working for a British university, have the freedom to teach and study, this must be a universal right, not at the discretion of an occupying power. How can anyone justify preventing young people from fulfilling their potential and learning how to serve their community more fully?"

In addition to the British academics, this fourth voyage will include a British surgeon traveling to Gaza to volunteer in local hospitals for the next several weeks, as well as international human rights workers and journalists. The ship will also be carrying in one ton of medical supplies
and high-protein baby formula. In recent days, Israel has forcibly intervened to prevent other such missions from reaching Gaza.

Lubna Masarwa, one of the Free Gaza organizers, stated that, "Gaza doesn't need charity. What Gaza needs is sustained political action aimed at overcoming this vicious siege. We have no intention of turning around, and so we're confident that we will reach Gaza. We are unarmed civilians carrying desperately needed supplies to other unarmed civilians. It would be obscene for Israel to use violence to stop us."

The passengers on board the Dignity this Monday will include:

. British academics on a fact-finding mission to document the devastating affects Israel's siege has had on the educational sector in Gaza
. A British surgeon traveling to Gaza to volunteer in local hospitals for
the next several weeks
. A Palestinian man who has been denied the right to return to his family
in Gaza
. International human rights workers
. International journalists from Al-Jazeera TV and McClatchy Newspapers"

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