Lauren Booth: journalist and human rights activist: unlawfully trapped in the Gaza Strip
The international Free Gaza Movement (www.freegaza.org) sailed two boats, the Free Gaza and Liberty this summer from Cyprus to the port of Gaza to break the Israeli siege of the Gaza Strip and to deliver a symbolic cargo of humanitarian aid. The two boats, carrying two Palestinian families, both of whom desperately needed to leave Gaza, then, returned to Cyprus via sea.
Lauren Booth, one of the Free Gaza Movement campaigners on this historic voyage, along with several others, gave up her place on the returning boats to enable the two Palestinian families to leave Gaza for Cyprus.
Since then Lauren, a British citizen, has tried to leave Gaza via the Eretz crossing into Israel and via the Rafah crossing into Egypt. She has been turned back from both crossings.
An official statement by the Israeli Defence Ministry on August 25th declared that the Free Gaza Movement did not violate any laws, and that the Movement's sailing two ships from Cyprus to Gaza posed no "security threat" (Ha'aretz). Israel did not intervene in the sailing by the "Free Gaza" and "Liberty", or in their return to Cyprus. However, officials from Egypt have adopted Israel's subsequent (and contradictory) position that the Free Gaza participants entered Gaza "illegally". Cypriot authorities approved the sea voyage, a journey that did not need approval from Egypt or Israel under international law.
The politically motivated decisions on the part of the Egyptian and Israeli government appears to be intended to punish the participants in the Free Gaza Movement for lawfully bypassing Israeli and Egyptian restrictions, restrictions that make travel to and from Gaza virtually impossible.