As a law student Arraf conducted research for the Public International Law and Policy Group, which provides pro bono legal assistance to governments involved in conflicts. Arraf also worked with the International Human Rights Law Clinic at the Washington College of Law, where she represented clients before the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights on issues ranging from indigenous lands rights to cross-border abductions and irregular rendition.
Arraf chairs the Free Gaza Movement, the organization behind the Gaza Freedom Flotillas – a series of groups of ships carrying Pro-Palestinian activists that were organized to break Israel’s naval blockade of the Gaza Strip. She was aboard the 2008 Free Gaza boats as well as the 2010 flotilla that was raided by Israeli commandos on May 31. Using a satellite phone on board, Arraf stated that their plan was to have the boats keep heading toward Gaza “until they either disable our boats or jump on board.”
At the time of the raid, Arraf was aboard the Challenger 1, one of the smallest ships (30 feet) of the flotilla. On Thursday, 3 June 2010, she provided her version of the events on Challenger 1 in an interview on Democracy Now.