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Home | Friday 16th January 2009 | Issue 662

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As reported last week, Free Gaza's last attempt to breach the Israeli blockade saw The Dignity being rammed by the Israeli navy in international waters. We also reported on their determination not to give in to violence and intimidation and to launch another boat as soon as possible. And so they did. On Wednesday (14th) they launched The Spirit of Humanity from a Cypriot port carrying medical supplies, medical personnel, journalists and humanitarian activists.

Determined to remove any excuse for attacking The Spirit, Free Gaza notified the Israeli government of the boat's departure and route and provided them with a full list of passengers and cargo. They also had the Cypriot Port Authorities carry out a thorough search of the vessel in order to certify that it only carried humanitarian supplies.

Shortly before departure however, Free Gaza were warned by Cypriot authorities that the Israeli government had contacted their embassy in Tel Aviv and warned them that they felt "justified" in using "any means available" to forcibly prevent the mercy ship from arriving in Gaza.

They've been true to their word. Just hours after leaving, The Spirit was surrounded by at least five Israeli gunboats who started to cut recklessly in front of it before radioing and threatening to open fire if it didn't turn back. When asked if the Israeli navy was acknowledging that they intended to commit a war crime by deliberately firing on unarmed civilians, the warships repeated their government's line that they would use 'any means' to stop the boat.

Having already proved they really are willing to use 'any means' necessary, even breaching international maritime law and the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea and attacking civilians on a humanitarian mission, The Spirit has turned around and is now returning to Cyprus.

* For more information see

Keywords: gaza, palestine, israel


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