Washington, DC -- The Muslim Public Affairs Council today called on President Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to call for the immediate release of a former U.S. Congresswoman and 21 human rights workers by Israeli naval forces.
Earlier today, Israeli naval forces intercepted and captured a small boat called "The Spirit of Humanity," which was carrying medical supplies, cement, olive trees and children's toys to Gaza. Former U.S. Congresswoman Cynthia McKinney and Noble laureate Mairead Maguire are among the nearly two dozen people captured by Israeli forces.
"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," McKinney said in the statement, released today by the Free Gaza Movement, which owns the humanitarian boat. "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."
The 1.5 million residents of the Gaza Strip have been under an intense and crippling blockade for nearly two years. The humanitarian crisis has reached desperate levels. Today, three-quarters of Palestinians are unemployed and rely on U.N. and other humanitarian groups for their daily sustenance.
President Obama, Secretary Clinton and our Congress should also demand an immediate end to the crippling blockade on Gaza.