She can't stay out of the limelight, can't she?
Our old whackjob is back . . .
Updated: 10:28 a.m. December 30, 2008
McKinney relief boat hit by Israeli ship
By CRAIG SCHNEIDER
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Monday, December 29, 2008
A boat carrying international peace activists, including former Georgia congresswoman Cynthia McKinney, and medical supplies to the embattled Gaza Strip sailed back into a Lebanese port on Tuesday after being turned back and damaged by the Israeli navy, organizers of the trip said.
The crowds on the docks in the Lebanese port city of Tyre were jubilant and cheering as they welcomed the vessel.
The boat, which set off from Cyprus Monday wanted to make a statement and deliver medical supplies to embattled Gaza. The trip’s organizers said the boat was clearly in international waters, 90 miles off the coast of Gaza, at the time of its close encounter with the Israeli navy.
“Our boat was rammed three times, twice in the front and one on the side,” McKinney told CNN Tuesday morning. “Our mission was a peaceful mission. Our mission was thwarted by the aggressiveness of the Israeli military.”
Yigal Palmor, a spokesman for Israel’s Foreign Ministry, denied there had been any shooting although the two ships had made “physical contact.”
Palmor said there was no response to a radio warning to the Dignity, and the vessel then tried to out-maneuver the Israeli patrol boat, leading to the collision.
Cyprus state radio said the Cypriot government would seek explanations from Israel over the incident.
McKinney called on President-elect Obama to address the Gaza crisis, saying the weapons being used by Israel were supplied by the United States.
McKinney denied that the incident was an accident. “What the Israelis are saying is outright disinformation,” she said. “What happened to us last night was a direct threat to our mission, but not our cause.”
Palmor called those allegations “absurd.”
“There is no intention on the part of the Israeli navy to ram anybody,” Palmor said.
In a press release, the Free Gaza movement stated, “Contrary to international maritime law, the Israelis are actively preventing the Dignity from approaching Gaza or finding safe haven in either Egypt or Lebanon. Instead, the Israeli navy is demanding that the Dignity return to Cyprus — despite the fact that the ship does not carry enough fuel to do so.”
McKinney is a high-profile member of a boatload of activists that set sail Monday from Cyprus to deliver medicine to war-torn Gaza.
McKinney, who ran as the Green Party candidate for president, sees the voyage as a humanitarian mission, said her father, former Georgia state Rep. Billy McKinney.
“Her mother did not want her to go,” he said, referring to concerns at home for her safety. “But I think that certain people have missions in life and you can’t deter them.”
The activists, organized by the Free Gaza Group, said their 66-foot yacht called “SS Dignity” would defy an Israeli blockade of Gaza and ferry 16 activists and three tons of Cypriot-donated supplies. The supplies are intended to help treat the wounded from Israeli bombings against targets in Gaza, in retaliation for rocket fire aimed at civilians in southern Israeli towns.
Israel’s aerial bombardment of the Gaza Strip continued for a third day on Monday. By Monday, the death toll rose to 364, with some 1,400 reported wounded, according to Palestinian medical officials.
McKinney had sent an e-mail days ago to friends and supporters saying she intended to go to Gaza, said Hugh Esco, a Decatur resident who ran her presidential campaign Web site.
“She has stood with people all over this planet against oppression,” said Esco.
McKinney said she will petition President-elect Barack Obama to speak out against the attacks on Gaza.
The Free Gaza group has made five deliveries of aid by boat to Gaza since August, defying a blockade imposed by Israel when Hamas won control of the territory in June 2007. Organizers say they are aware they may be stopped this time.
“I don’t know if she’ll get off the boat,” her father said. “I hope she gets back safely.”
— The Associated Press contributed to this report.