By Yvonne Ridley
August 2, 2008
ORGANISERS who plan to break the siege of Gaza using a boat sailing from Cyprus are facing accusations their seaborne peace mission could be used as a front for a gun-running operation.
The astonishing claims were made yesterday by Israeli lawyers to the Attorney General of California where funding for the project originally began. It is clear from the letter the Zionist group is determined to stop the boat from sailing into Gaza with medical aid for Palestinian children.
Nitsana Darshan-Leitner, director of Shurat HaDin Israel Law Center also accuses the International Solidarity Movement (ISM), and others, of violating Israeli sovereignty and the U.S. Neutrality Act.
Darshan-Leitner wrote that based on prior experience there were "serious concerns that the boats will be carrying weapons, explosives and contraband".
She cited that the Zionist State had imposed a series of sanctions on the Gaza Strip including a coastal blockade to prevent "previous attempts by the Iranian Government to transfer weapons to Palestinian militants at sea."
Last night from their base in Cyprus, organisers of the Free Gaza project said they were bemused by the accusations adding: "Not bad for a group of peaceniks who want to deliver hearing aids for Palestinian kids."
The seaborne venture which sets sail in a few days time has been endorsed by politicians and humanitarians across the globe including Archbishop Desmond Tutu, and Nobel Peace prize winner Mairead Maquire.
This latest development seems to have had little impact on the internationals representing more than 12 different countries including America, Canada, Pakistan, Britain, Palestine and Israel.
They were joined yesterday by journalist Lauren Booth, sister-in-law of the former British Prime Minister Tony Blair who ironically was forced to cancel his trip to Gaza a few weeks ago because of security concerns.
Last night the head of the Free Gaza campaign, Californian Greta Berlin said: "It is utter nonsense to suggest we carry anything except hearing aids. The only boats in that area of the Mediterranean that are carrying guns, munitions and rockets belong to Israel.
"This is a human rights mission and one which we intend to run throughout the summer months and early Fall. This is not a one time operation. Our intent is to break the Israeli Siege of Gaza."
* Press TV will be following the progress of the peace activists and journalist Yvonne Ridley, who will be on board with Indy film-maker Aki Nawaz, will be sending a regular blog to Press TV's website.