New York, May 31, 2010… The tragic events aboard the Mavi Marmara earlier today were the result of a deliberate and unnecessary provocation organized primarily by groups with ties to terrorist entities including Hamas. As information emerges regarding what really occurred, it is apparent that members of the so-called humanitarian mission planned and executed attacks on soldiers and sailors from the IDF who repeatedly requested calm and gave multiple warnings urging boats to go to the Israeli port of Ashdod, where the aid would be unloaded and shipped through legal means to Gaza. It is now apparent that the soldiers were armed with paint ball guns and were ordered not to use pistols unless faced with a life-threatening situation. They were confronted with knives, clubs and other weapons as well as live fire from guns stolen from an Israeli soldier. Several months ago, the Egyptian government prevented an envoy with aid accompanied by many of the same people from entering Gaza.
"We urge all governments to refrain from a rush to judgment and to allow the facts to emerge. The Prime Minister is on his way back to Israel and will then be able to address this fully. There is nothing to be gained from succumbing to the pressures of those who seek an immediate condemnation of Israel," said Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations Chair Alan Solow and Executive Vice Chairman Malcolm Hoenlein.
"The Turkish group IHH, which organized the flotilla, is a radical anti-Western group that supports Hamas and is tied to the Islamic Brotherhood. IHH sought a confrontation from the very beginning of this trip. Israel requested that the flotilla redirect its humanitarian supplies to the port of Ashdod as a peaceful and non-violent option in order to deliver the supplies to Gaza through the appropriate and legal channels. Had the IHH not rejected Israel's repeated offers and heeded Israel's warnings, this outbreak of violence would have been easily avoided and the goods delivered to Gaza through the appropriate channels. Video footage shows that the Israeli soldiers repeatedly asked for calm, but the activists were trained and prepared to attack and inflict injuries.
"We regret the loss of life and the injuries. But the responsibility for these tragic events lies primarily with those who organized and carried out this extremist mission and those that aided and abetted them.
"The maritime blockade of Gaza – similar to those imposed by other countries in conflict situations – was imposed to prevent arms smuggling into Gaza and to protect the citizens of Israel who are subject to ongoing rocket attacks, with 150 this year alone. In the past, such ships were also used to bring arms to those fighting Israel's right to exist. Following Israel's complete withdrawal from the Gaza Strip in 2005 and Hamas' victory in the Gaza elections, Hamas took complete control, expelling Fatah and the Palestinian Authority. Hamas has been designated a terrorist organization by the United States, Europe and others and they all do not engage with Hamas.
"Israel has delivered more than 1 million tons of humanitarian aid since Operation Cast Lead last January and continues to deliver 10-15,000 tons of humanitarian aid to Gaza per week. This is in addition to the vast amount of goods smuggled into Gaza through Egypt and other means.
"Why did we not hear the same voices of condemnation raised as thousands of rockets poured down on Israel or on behalf of Gilad Shalit, who was kidnapped by Hamas more than four years ago and held incommunicado ever since? We wish that other countries would have acted like Cyprus, which refused to allow the flotilla to sail from its ports," said Solow and Hoenlein.