Former Georgia Rep. Cynthia McKinney returned to the U.S. Tuesday after being detained in an Israeli prison for trying to break the naval blockade of the Gaza Strip, according to a statement from the Green Party.
McKinney and 20 activists from the "Free Gaza Movement" were arrested June 30 when their boat attempted to sail from Cyprus to Gaza to deliver three tons of aid to Palestinians -- a move meant to bring attention to the blockade imposed by Israel and Egypt on the territory after terror group Hamas seized power there two years ago.
McKinney, who was the Green Party's candidate for president in 2008, claimed in a statement that she was arrested and imprisoned in a jail in Ramla, Israel, "because we wanted to give crayons to the children in Gaza."
"If Israel fears for its security because Gaza's children have crayons then not only has Israel lost its last shred of legitimacy, but Israel must be declared a failed state," McKinney said.
Israel's navy spokesman said last week it took custody of the boat when it tried to pass through a blockade. Officials said they would free the crew and passengers as soon as they were checked, but McKinney and the others say they refused to sign deportation forms because it would have entailed admitting they violated Israel's blockade.
McKinney also lashed out at the Obama administration for failing to press for her release.
"State Department and White House officials have not effected our release or taken a strong public stance to condemn the illegal actions of the Israeli Navy of enforcing a blockade of humanitarian assistance to the Palestinians of Gaza, a blockade that has been condemned by President Obama," McKinney said in a statement posted on the Green Party's Web site last week.
McKinney said she and others were simply following an appeal by Obama for supplies to be sent to Gaza.
The former congresswoman is expected to arrive at Washington, D.C.'s Ronald Reagan Airport at noon Tuesday, where she will address reporters' questions about her detention.