Six 'Free Gaza’ human rights activists deported by Israel
Israel deported six UK citizens on Monday afternoon. The six were part of a group of human rights workers that tried to deliver aid to the sealed off Gaza Strip last week. The six from the UK arrived at Heathrow airport around two o’clock in the afternoon.
The group of human rights activists was detained last week by the Israeli navy as it was 23 miles away from the coast of Gaza.
"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.
Just before being kidnapped by Israel, Huwaida Arraf, Free Gaza Movement chairperson and delegation co-coordinator on this voyage, stated that: "No one could possibly believe that our small boat constitutes any sort of threat to Israel. We carry medical and reconstruction supplies, and children’s toys. Our passengers include a Nobel peace prize laureate and a former U.S. congressperson. Our boat was searched and received a security clearance by Cypriot Port Authorities before we departed, and at no time did we ever approach Israeli waters."
The reaction of the UK ministry of foreign affairs was coined in less strong wording: "We would be concerned if the stories of the Israeli navy boarding the Spirit of Humanity in international waters were true," said a spokesperson for UK Foreign Secretary David Miliband, to British media.
The spokesperson also suggested that the issue of Gaza’s legal waters "are murky", but that the ministry was "looking into claims that the takeover by Israel’s navy of the ship and its 21-member crew violated international law".