May 31, 2010 - New York - AJC condemned the pro-Hamas "Free Gaza" movement and its supporters for deliberately provoking a violent confrontation with the Israeli Navy in its attempt to sail a flotilla of ships to Gaza.
"This tragedy on the high seas could have been avoided, and we regret the loss of life,” said AJC Executive Director David Harris. “The fact that the flotilla refused to cooperate with Israel’s repeated entreaties to unload their humanitarian cargo in Ashdod for delivery to Gaza proves that violent clashes are exactly what the international supporters of Hamas must have been seeking."
Israel, under international law, has every right to intercept the ships, and had warned the flotilla to not attempt to land in Gaza, which is controlled since 2007 by the terrorist Hamas, a group that openly seeks the destruction of Israel, and seized control of Gaza in a violent coup ousting the Palestinian Authority led by Mahmoud Abbas.
"The ironically-named 'Free Gaza' movement, which exists to bolster the despotic Hamas regime and its Muslim Brotherhood support base in Turkey and elsewhere, sailed this flotilla not to deliver humanitarian aid -- which Israel offered to deliver by land after a security check -- but to add an international dimension to the relentless campaign of Hamas against Israel's very existence," said Harris.
When Israeli commandos boarded the ships, they were met with violence from a supposedly non-violent group, including gunfire from automatic weapons and attacks with knives and axes. Several Israelis were wounded. As a result of the clash triggered by the pro-Hamas group, a number of them were killed or wounded in the confrontation.
As the flotilla sailed toward Gaza, Al Jazeera television showed pro-Hamas activists chanting anti-Israel and anti-Semitic songs, including the notorious words, "Khaybar, Khaybar, O Jews, the army of Muhammed will return." One Hamas supporter declared that the aim of the flotilla was either of two "good things...achieving martyrdom or reaching Gaza."