RAMALLAH, June 10 (JMCC) - Israeli officials have defended their decision to forcibly board six ships headed to the blockaded Gaza Strip
late last month, arguing that the ships carried arms rather than aid.
Here, IPS news publishes
an interview with flotilla
organizer Huwaida Arraf where she rebuts the Israeli claims.
IPS: Did the activists provoke the Israeli commandos into using deadly force?Read
HA: This is nonsense. We went out of our way to inform the Israelis that we were an unarmed civilian boat delivering aid, that we presented no threat to them and there was no need to board our vessels. We explained repeatedly who we were and what our mission was. Our boats were checked by different security at the various ports of departure and we also hired independent security personnel to verify that we were arms-free.
We were attacked in international waters, in the middle of the night when most people were asleep. The Israelis used a highly-trained naval force, not the coastguard, against unarmed civilians.
IPS: But videos show activists beating Israeli navy seals with bars.
HA: Let's not forget the Israelis confiscated all equipment from the media and released selective video footage so as to try and justify their extreme violence.
Furthermore, this was the response of a small number of individuals out of nearly 700 people. The FG organizers specifically held workshops for passengers prior to departure to explain how to respond in a nonviolent way to an attack on the boat. However, the Israelis attacked first by shooting even before the commandos had boarded.
When such unjustified violence is used against a civilian vessel, in international waters, which poses no threat to Israel's security it is not always possible to control the response of some people who are scared, angry and who may wish to defend themselves.
the full interview at the Electronic Intifada