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Canadian abducted by Israel to address Prairie audiences

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Delegates on board the Canadian Boat to Gaza, the Tahrir, shortly before it was intercepted by the Israeli navy.

A Canadian who was forcibly abducted by Israeli forces from the Canadian ship Tahrir and detained without charge last fall continues to demand that the Conservative government press Israel to immediately return the boat and its contents, and is taking that message on a Prairies speaking tour.

London, Ontario activist David Heap, who was on board the Tahrir when it was boarded in international waters, will be speaking in Saskatoon on May 17 and Winnipeg on May 22, and will also address the campaign's ongoing plans to challenge the illegal blockade of Gaza.

On November 4, 2011 - with a wink and a nod from the Canadian government - Israel sent a clear and unambiguous message to Canadian activists intent on challenging the illegal blockade of Gaza: Israel will not hesitate to use military force against you, and your government will do nothing to stop us. Israel has held the Tahrir and its contents without justification since November 2011, despite demands that the ship be released so its humanitarian contents can be delivered to the people of Gaza.

"Israel has never found, or even claimed to have found, anything dangerous or prohibited on the Tahrir," says Heap. "Even according to Israel's own arbitrary and unjust list of blockaded items, our vessel and its contents should be allowed to reach Gaza without delay. Yet this theft is added to the countless reckless actions for which Israel is being granted impunity by the Harper Conservatives."

"The Tahrir was purchased with donations from hundreds of ordinary Canadians and Canadian civil society organizations," adds Heap. "Our grassroots fundraising campaign lasted more than a year, and now Harper's Conservatives are doing nothing to help in the delivery of our ship and the $30,000 in medical aid on board, which our civil society partners in Gaza are waiting for."

Heap, along with others from the Tahrir and its supporters, are calling on the Canadian government to demonstrate its commitment to international law and the treaties to which it is a signatory by:

· exerting all necessary diplomatic pressure for the prompt recovery of the Tahrir, the medical aid, and all Canadian property illegally seized during a lawful, peaceful voyage to Gaza;

· insisting that Canada meet its obligations under U.N. Security Council Resolution 1860 and press Israel to facilitate the unimpeded movement of people and goods into and out of Gaza, including by sea, as mandated by International law.

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