This morning, the Free Gaza Movement was informed through the media that the Israeli Navy is threatening to forcibly stop the SS Dignity from entering Gaza tomorrow morning. Israel has not bothered to inform us of a legitimate reason for preventing us from delivering medical supplies, doctors, lawyers, and prominent human rights advocates to the Gaza Strip. Indeed, Israel has not bothered to communicate with us at all.
We are returning to Gaza for exactly the same reasons we came in August: to deliver medical supplies, meet with civil society organizations, volunteer in hospitals, and visit Palestinians who have requested our presence.
According to Huwaida Arraf, Free Gaza spokesperson and law lecturer at al-Quds University in Jerusalem: "The SS Dignity is carrying 27 unarmed civilians, as well as a ton of urgently needed medical supplies. We will be sailing from Cypriot territorial waters to international waters, directly into Gaza territorial waters. We do not pose a 'security threat' to Israel, we will not be going anywhere near Israeli waters, and therefore, Israel does not have any legal right to violently disrupt our mission."
The Free Gaza Movement would like to make it clear that we do not wish nor do we seek any confrontation with Israel. We have already invited Israeli Foreign Minister Aharon Abramovitz and Defense Minister Ehud Barak to join us on our voyage as long as they remain nonviolent. In August, we invited Tsipi Livni to accompany us.
We would like to extend this invitation to any member of the Israel Knesset: "If you are legitimately concerned about our mission, or if you wish to educate yourself on the devastating effects of Israel's genocidal policies of collective punishment against the families of the Gaza Strip, join us in breaking this brutal siege, sail with us to Gaza, and learn first hand what Israeli violence has done to the civilian population of Gaza."
Mairead Maguire, the winner of the 1976 Nobel Peace Prize and one of the passengers aboard the SS Dignity, stated: "The people of Gaza are part of our human family. The Israeli government cannot cut off Gaza forever. We will come again and again until we reach our family. We go to visit our family, and the Israeli government has no right to stop us."
The 27 unarmed civilians sailing aboard the SS Dignity represent 13 different countries. We are doctors, lawyers, teachers, and human rights advocates. We are Christians, Muslims, Jews, and agnostics. It would be ignorant and outrageous for Israel to use violence against us, and we are reminded at this moment of a message from the Qur'an:
"And the servants of God most Gracious are those who walk on the earth in humility, and when the ignorant address them, they say, 'Peace!'"