June 30, 2009 15:30 local time: Israeli Occupation forces have boarded the Free Gaza Movement's aid boat Spirit of Humanity and abducted 21 humanitarian aid workers including six-term U.S. Congresswoman and former presidential candidate Cynthia McKinney and Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Mairead Corrigan Maguire. Major news outlets MSNBC, ABC, CNN, BBC, FOX, and The Nation have been silent on events, thus far.
"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 McKinney. "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."
A communication from the Spirit of Humanity, earlier today, reported that the boat would continue to move slowly toward the Gaza port despite being surrounded by Israeli warships at 24 miles off Israel's coast. The activists aboard refused to retreat despite Israeli threats and warned the Israelis that they must not fire on unarmed human rights workers and journalists.
"We didn't come with guns and weapons, but with just humanitarian aid, in an attempt to break the siege of Gaza and to tell the apathetic world about what is happening in the Strip, especially after the last war," said Huwaida Araf, Chairperson of the Free Gaza Movement in an radio interview with Nazareth-based Al-Shams.
Arraf says the Spirit of Humanity left Cyprus after being inspected and given security clearance. It is carrying "medical supplies, children's toys, and reconstruction kits" to the 1.5 million people trapped in Gaza.
In 2007, Israel heightened the blockade on Gaza, which is home to some 1.5 million people. Please see the Free Gaza Movement's web site for live updates.
Video shows the Cyprus departure of the Spirit of Humanity on June 29th.