For Immediate Release -- Wednesday, November 9, 2011
Despite a threat from an Israeli judge that they could face two months in prison, Canada's Freedom Waves to Gaza activists David Heap and Ehab Lotayef are being released and deported back to Canada today. They are expected to arrive on Thursday, Nov. 10 at 6:40 a.m. at Pearson International Airport. They plan to hold a press conference on Parliament Hill in Ottawa later in the day.
The third Canadian who was aboard the Tahrir, Karen DeVito, has also been released and will be returning home to Vancouver next week. The remaining delegates from Ireland and Australia are also expected to arrive home by the end of the week, but the status of UK journalist Hassan Ghani is still unclear.
The reason why those who were detained undertook this journey in the first place was to show solidarity with the ordinary people of Gaza who have lost their basic freedoms as a result of a blockade imposed by the military forces of Israel, and to take action that would contribute to the end of that blockade.
Freedom Waves was never intended to focus attention on the 27 people aboard the MV Saoirse and the Tahrir, but on the 1.6 million people of Gaza -- half of whom are children under the age of 16 -- who continue to suffer collective punishment at the hands of the Israeli military. While Canadian and international citizens were languishing in prison in Israel for the "crime" of coming to their aid, the population of Gaza continues to languish in what is, in effect, the world's largest open air prison.
This latest of 11 attempts to break the blockade of Gaza via the sea demonstrates once again that Israel is able to act with impunity when it comes to the welfare of the Palestinian people and anyone trying to help them. It is because of the continuing inaction of governments around the world, including the Canadian government, that ordinary people feel compelled to act.
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