For Immediate Release: June 18th, 2011
Contact:  Medea Benjamin, Codepink, 415.235.6517
Sasha Gelzin, Free Gaza Movement, 773.419.1144

Gaza Flotilla Passengers to Hold Press Conference Outside Department of State

Where: Outside the Department of State - 2201 C Street Northwest
When:  Thursday, June 16 at 10AM
Who:    Medea Benjamin, CODEPINK cofounder, passenger

Ray McGovern, former CIA analyst, passenger
Noura Erekat, Palestinian-American lawyer, Badil Legal Advocacy Coordinator
Amer Shurrab, Gazan activist who lost family members during Operation Cast Lead

As part of the Freedom Flotilla II, an American ship named the Audacity of Hope will be sailing from Greece to Gaza with 50 American citizens in late June.

The US Boat to Gaza will be a part of an international coalition to break the Israeli blockade of the Gaza Strip. Around ten boats holding 1000 passengers will be sailing on June 25th.

While the Israeli and American governments have increased efforts to prevent the Flotilla from sailing, calling it a provocation, participants and organizers maintain that it is a necessary, non-violent initiative to highlight the conditions within Gaza caused by an illegal Israeli siege.

“A new UN report shows a staggering 45% unemployment rate and abject poverty in Gaza due to the blockade. International governments have failed to pressure Israel to lift this inhumane siege, so we, the people, must do so,” said CODEPINK cofounder and passenger Medea Benjamin.

The first Freedom Flotilla to Gaza which sailed in May 2010 was violently attacked in international waters by Israeli armed forces, causing the death of eight Turkish citizens and one American citizen. The Israeli government is threatening to attack the next flotilla as well, but the unarmed, non-violent passengers are determined to break Israel's inhumane blockade of Gaza.

The passengers will deliver a letter to Secretary of State Clinton asking her to work with the Israeli government to ensure safe passage for all on board.