Final Update (11/8/11 11pm): We are relieved to report that U.S. Freedom Waves representative, Kit Kittredge, arrived today in JFK.
Welcome home, Kit! You are loved and respected for your efforts to raise awareness about the plight of Palestinian peoples and for making a brave stand against injustice.
*NOTE: All Irish passengers are still being detained with no release time or date. Please contact your representatives and ask them to speak up on behalf of our global citizens wrongly detained.
Update (11/8/11 9pm): Kit Kittredge is scheduled to be deported tomorrow and arrive in Newark 4:30 pm, confirmed by U.S. consul in Tel Aviv.
Update (11/6/11):Juan Arellano, with the U.S. Embassy, Tel Aviv, reports he has seen Kit and that she is in good health.
We know nothing more about Kit at this time.
Words by Lina Attalah, Al-Masry Al-Youm English's managing editor:"Soon after, the Israeli presence in the waters around us intensified. We counted at least 15 ships, four of which were warships, and the rest a mix of smaller boats and water cannons. From inside the smaller boats, dozens of Israeli soldiers pointed their machines guns at us. This is when our communications system was jammed and we lost contact with the world."
Our boat's captain started receiving radio messages from the Israeli navy, asking about the organizers and the destination of the trip. Ehab Lotayef, another organizer of the Tahrir boat to Gaza, communicated with the Israeli navy, telling them that our destination was Gaza and that any attempt to arrest us would be illegal. When the navy repeated over the radio, “Tahrir, what is your final destination?” Lotayef, who is a poet, responded, “the betterment of mankind.”
Update (11/5/11):Israel has begun deporting the illegally detained passengers aboard the "Soirse" and the "Tahrir".
An Israeli Immigration Authority spokeswoman said 2 Greek citizens and 2 journalists were flown home on Saturday. She also reported that one American and one Spanish would be sent home on Sunday. If this plays out, Kit Kittredge, will soon be flying in to JFK.
Your Direct Action Is Still Critical!
Please call and write representatives with an addendum to your comments. Let them know Kit and her fellow passengers are not criminals, but rather brave global citizens acting to uphold international human rights law when governments fail to do so.
According to Harratez, the Obama administration has warned U.S. citizens on the boats they may face legal action for violating Israeli and American law (Since when are Israeli and American Law placed above International Law?) with State Department spokeswoman, Victoria Nuland, warning Americans "not to involve themselves in this activity.
Update (11/4/11, 4pm EST): PASSENGERS KIDNAPPED BY ISRAELI FORCES
The passengers on the Saoirse and the Tahrir have been kidnapped by Israeli forces 80 miles from their intended destination and taken to Givon prison. They will be held there at least overnight if not longer. Please take immediate action to ensure their safe return!
Update (11/4/11, 11:30 am EST): IDF CONFIRMS BOATS UNDER THEIR CONTROL
New photo of ships position and tracking shows that the ships have been boarded and are now under Israeli control. The course has taken a turn away from the destination port of Gaza and now appears to be heading towards Ashdod.
Update (11/4/11, 7:43 am EST): BOATS EN ROUTE TO GAZA SURROUNDED BY ISRAELI WARSHIPS
The ground support crew lost contact with two ships, the Saoirse of Ireland and the Tahrir of Canada, carrying 27 civilian passengers, medical supplies and letters of support for the people of Gaza.
At 7:30 am the Tahrir was interrogated, via radio, by the Israeli Navy. The ships were approximately 48 nautical miles off the coastline, well into international waters. Asked by the Israeli Navy for their destination, Canadian activist Ehab Lotayef replied, “The conscience of humanity.” When they repeated the question, asking for final destination, Lotayef said, “The betterment of mankind."
Israel has maintained a naval blockade of Gaza since June 2006. Numerous international organizations, including committees of the United Nations, have concluded the blockade is in violation of international law.
UPDATE (11/3, 11 pm):SHADOWED BY ISRAELI WARSHIPS
The latest news from the two boats traveling to Gaza is that they are currently at sea located 100 miles off shore from the Lebanese/Israeli border and are planning to arrive in Palestinian waters near Gaza by 7am (1am our time). The boats are being shadowed by Israeli warships. There are a total of 27 people on the two boats. There are five media representatives on the Tahrir boat including representatives from Democracy Now!, Press TV, Al Jazeera and Canadian media.
Words from Kit Kittredge, our U.S. representative aboard the Tahrir:
"Good morning friends,
Kit here on the Tahrir doing my earl morning watch.
Rockin and rollin across the Med.
We are about 120 naut. miles off the Gazan shore.
All is well so far.
Only a few folks green around the gills but still managing to film, type, clean, cook, tie banners, plan, train, talk and remaining in great spirits.
We thought we had some IDF escorts in the way far distance last night but they seem to be off the radar now.
Israel has said they are monitoring us (duh) and intend to intercept us.
Who what where when is an unknown of course.
We are extremely thankful to see the eastern skies lighting up, with the sun, and hope the enlightenment continues in the hearts and minds all over the world so Peace and Justice prevail.
We Sail until Palestine is Free!
Thank you all for all that you do."
UPDATE (11/3, 6 pm):EXPECTED ARRIVAL
It looks possible for the 2 boats to reach Gaza, if not intercepted by the Israelis, by Friday at 3 pm their time. However, we believe there will be an attempt to stop them, maybe as early as tonight. Stay tuned to the website noted below for the latest updates!