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Former US Ambassador: Israel?s Explanation for Dea dly Gaza Aid Attack "Full of Holes as a Window Screen"

Von: EconomicDemocracy Coop (econdemocracy@gmail.com) [Profil]
Datum: 02.06.2010 19:56
Message-ID: <d28811b5-f6ff-4e93-b11c-7372eb605e23@v18g2000vbc.googlegroups.com>
Newsgroup: alt.peace alt.politics alt.activismtalk.politics.misc misc.headlines
Israel’s Explanation for Deadly Gaza Aid Attack "Full of Holes as a
Window Screen"–Former US Ambassador Edward Peck
Carmon

Former US Ambassador Edward Peck was on the Gaza aid flotilla that
came under attack by Israeli forces. At least nine people were killed
and dozens wounded. Peck says Israel’s explanation for the attack is
"twisting the truth" and is "as full of holes as a window
screen." [includes rush transcript–partial]

...

So, for more, we turn to Edward Peck. He’s a former US ambassador. He,
too, was on the Gaza aid flotilla, and he’s joining us from his home
in Chevy Chase, Maryland.

Welcome to Democracy Now!

EDWARD PECK: I’m honored.

AMY GOODMAN: Can you talk about, Ambassador Peck, what happened? Where
were you in this flotilla, and what took place—what was it?—about 4:00
Monday morning?

EDWARD PECK: Four o’clock in the morning, and we were on a small ship.
I was not on the one that was so heavily damaged, physically, in terms
of the people. We were on a small ship under—that had come out of
Athens, Greece. There were fifty-four of us onboard. And our ship was
small enough so that the Israeli commandos were able to step from
their deck right onto ours. So the first thing we knew was the sound
of footsteps, and my eyelids flicked open, and there they were,
heavily armed. And I notice the Israeli government keeps referring to
the paint guns, but the paint guns were attached to the automatic
weapons and the stun grenades and the pepper spray and the tasers and
everything else that these guys carry. You know, paint guns are for
fun.

And it was all over in the inside of the ship where I was. But up on
the upper deck, where some people had been sitting and sleeping, they
made an effort to peacefully prevent the Israelis from taking over the
wheelhouse, and we had a number of people injured in that. Nothing
critical of a critical nature, but we had people on crutches and
people with bandages and peoples with their arms in slings, and the
captain had his neck in a bracelet. And they were the first ones off
the ship, when they finally forced us into—off the ship in Ashdod.

AMY GOODMAN: Ambassador Peck, why did you go on this mission?

EDWARD PECK: Well, that’s a good question. You know, I have been an
activist. I don’t consider that to be anything but a word that informs
people that I’m interested and aware. And I’ve made a number of trips
to Israel and all the surrounding countries and the West Bank over the—
since I retired, explaining, talking, meeting people, taking groups of
people over to meet and discuss. And I decided I would like to have a
chance to participate in something tactile, something that you could
see, you know, something—rather than just plain words. And the
Americans were added to this group, as you probably know, very late in
the game. It was a European thing. And at the last minute, they said,
"We need some Americans," and they contacted Paul and Janet and got
the Free Palestine Movement organized. And they invited me, and I said
yes, because I thought it would be helpful and beneficial to Israel to
let them receive the supplies, just the convoy of the boats that
carried the equipment, to come in and help the people of Gaza, a
humanitarian effort not directed against Israel, but intended to deal
with the humanitarian situation that needed to be dealt with by people
who could help from outside. Everything we brought was donated, as you
may know. Everything the flotilla brought was donated by people who
said, "Yeah, we’ve got to help the folks in Gaza. They are suffering."

AMY GOODMAN: Ambassador Peck, we’re going to break. When we come back,
we’re going to play an interview with the deputy ambassador to the
United Nations from Israel, and we’d like to get your response.
Ambassador Edward Peck, on with us on the line from Chevy Chase,
Maryland, where he’s just returned home. He was one of the members of
the 700-strong Freedom Flotilla bringing humanitarian aid to Gaza.
This is Democracy Now! We’ll be back in a minute.

[break]

-----

Earlier excerpt:

AMY GOODMAN: The attack has sparked worldwide protest and
condemnation....The UN Security Council condemned actions that, quote,
"led" to the deaths and called for an impartial investigation. At a
news conference, White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs said the US
fully supports the Security Council statement.

ROBERT GIBBS: The Security Council deeply regrets the loss of
life and injuries resulting from the use of force during the Israeli
military operation in international waters against the convoy sailing
to Gaza. The Council, in this context, condemns those acts which
resulted in the loss of at least ten civilians and many wounded, and
expresses its condolences to their families. The Security Council
requests the immediate release of the ships as well as civilians held
by Israel.

REPORTER: So that would seem to cover President Obama’s personal
feelings, while some of the allies are looking for a stronger
statement from him directly.

ROBERT GIBBS: Well, again, I—this is supported not just by the
United States but by the international community.

REPORTER: In light of what happened with the Gaza aid flotilla,
is the President considering at least backing international calls to
lift the blockade on the Gaza Strip by the Israeli forces?

ROBERT GIBBS: No. Well, look, obviously, as we have said before,
we are concerned about the humanitarian situation in Gaza and continue
to work with the Israelis and international partners in order to
improve those conditions. And as the UN Security Council statement
says, obviously it’s an untenable situation.

HELEN THOMAS: Our initial reaction to this flotilla massacre,
deliberate massacre, an international crime, was pitiful. What do you
mean you regret when something should be so strongly condemned? And if
any other nation in the world had done it, we would have been up in
arms. What is this sacrosanct, iron-clad relationship, where a country
that deliberately kills people—

ROBERT GIBBS: Well, again, Helen, I—

HELEN THOMAS: —and boycotts, and we aid and abet the boycott?

ROBERT GIBBS: Well, look, I think the initial reaction,
regretted the loss of life, as we tried and still continue to try to
gather the relevant—

HELEN THOMAS: Regret won’t bring them back.

ROBERT GIBBS: Nothing can bring them back, Helen. We know that
for sure, because I think if you could, that wouldn’t be up for
debate. We are—we believe that a credible and transparent
investigation has to look into the facts. And as I said earlier, we’re
open to international participation in that investigation.

HELEN THOMAS: Why did you think of it so late?

ROBERT GIBBS: Why did we think of...?

HELEN THOMAS: Why didn’t you initially condemn it?

ROBERT GIBBS: Again, I think the statements that we released
speak directly to that.


AMY GOODMAN: Robert Gibbs being questioned at the end there by veteran
White House correspondent Helen Thomas.

All the permanent members of the Security Council except for the
United States have explicitly called for Israel’s three-year blockade
of the Gaza Strip to be lifted.

Fuller text and video:

http://www.democracynow.org/2010/6/2/israels_explanation_for_deadly_gaza_ai
d

And Ban Ki-Moon at least have the courage to politely state the
obvious:

===

Ban: Lifting Gaza Blockade Would Have Prevented Flotilla Deaths

All the permanent members of the Security Council except for the
United States have called for Israel’s three-year blockade of the Gaza
Strip to be lifted. On a visit to Uganda, United Nations Secretary-
General Ban Ki-moon renewed his demand for an end to the blockade.

United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon: "Had the Israeli
government heeded to international calls and my own strong and urgent
and persistent call to lift the blockade of Gaza, this would not have
happened. Therefore, it is again very important and urgently required
that Israelis would immediately lift this blockade of Gaza."

http://www.democracynow.org/2010/6/2/headlines#4

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