28 June 2011 | US to Gaza
Contact: Athens: Donna Nevel, +30-694-266-3852;
New York: Leslie Cagan, 347-581-1782
U.S. Boat rejects Israeli Army allegation of violence; Passengers reiterate nonviolence pledge, openness to neutral inspection
Passengers on the U.S. boat to Gaza rejected as ludicrous and provocative an unsubstantiated accusation by the Israeli Army that passengers in the Gaza Freedom Flotilla plan to kill IDF soldiers with chemical weapons. The Jerusalem Post reported on Tuesday an Israeli Defense Forces allegation that some passengers on the flotilla had prepared sacks of sulfur which they planned to pour on Israeli soldiers.
"Passengers on the U.S. boat have long histories of responding to injustice nonviolently and peacefully. Every participant in the flotilla has signed a pledge of nonviolence," said Melissa Lane, a passenger on the U.S. boat. "We have been engaged in nonviolence training for the last several days. We have no weapons, and we have repeatedly offered to have our boats inspected by neutral authorities. We are absolutely not seeking any confrontation with the Israeli military. We just want to sail to Gaza."
"These spurious claims are merely an attempt to establish a justification to attack us," said Brad Taylor, another passenger on the U.S. boat. "Instead of fabricating horror stories about the hundreds of unarmed civilians in the flotilla, Israel should come clean about what it is they have in store for us.
It is safe to conclude that the only chemical weapons, including tear gas and smoke bombs, that will ever be brought on board our ships to Gaza are those that the Israeli military apparently intends to fire at us." "This is truly a shameful and desperate tactic on the part of the Israeli government. They know full well that the passengers have no intention of being anything but peaceful" said passenger Paki Wieland.