PRESS RELEASE by Canadian Arab Federation

The Canadian Arab Federation (CAF) finds it shameful that Prime Minister Harper is meeting and feting Benjamin Netanyahu while the Israeli navy has committed piracy and massacre in international waters against the Freedom Flotilla, a humanitarian aid convoy headed towards the Gaza Strip. Israeli helicopters fired on the six boats and boarded five of them killing 23 human rights activists and wounding at least another 60 on the Turkish boat Mavi Marmari, and abducted hundreds of humanitarian activists from 40 countries on the boats, including Irish Noble laureate Mairead Maguire and former U.S. Congresswoman Cynthia McKinney.

“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 Cynthia McKinney, a former U.S. Congresswoman and presidential candidate. “President Obama just told Israel to let in humanitarian and reconstruction supplies, and that’s exactly what we tried to do.”

According to an International Committee of the Red Cross report released yesterday, the Palestinians living in Gaza are “trapped in despair.” Thousands of Gazans whose homes were destroyed earlier during Israel ‘s December 2008/January 2009 massacre are still without shelter despite pledges of almost $4.5 billion in aid, because Israel refuses to allow cement and other building material into the Gaza Strip. The report also notes that hospitals are struggling to meet the needs of their patients due to Israel ‘s disruption of medical supplies.

“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 of “Cast Lead”. Our mission is a gesture to the people of Gaza that we stand by them and that they are not alone” said fellow passenger Mairead Maguire, winner of a Noble Peace Prize for her work in Northern Ireland.

“Israel once again committed a massacre of unarmed civilians to add to the hundreds of
massacres committed before but this time they have really gone way too far and alienated the international community with this horrendous crime. Israel ‘s deliberate and premeditated attack on these unarmed boats is an act of piracy and a clear violation of international law; and the killing and wounding of nearly 100 human rights activists representing 40 countries is a crime against humanity. The Harper government must strongly condemn these criminal activities and human rights violations. It must join the European Union in calling for an international inquiry into this massacre and demanding that Israel lift its inhumane and obscene 3-year siege of Gaza” said Khaled Mouammar, CAF’s National President.

For more information, please contact:

Khaled Mouammar, CAF National President, Cell: 416-879-6766, benwalid@rogers.com