Edward Peck, the former U.S. ambassador to Mauritania and a retired career diplomat, was taking part in the flotilla to the Gaza Strip when it was raided by Israeli naval commandos. A clash between activists and the commandos led to the deaths of nine of the pro-Palestinian activists.
Peck talked with Morning Edition co-host Steve Inskeep in an interview scheduled to be aired Wednesday. A few excerpts from Peck who described what happened during the raid:
PECK: "We awakened to have the commandos already on board. They'd come up very quietly in their little boats, their Zodiacs. There was just enough time to get a small passive resistance effort started — tried to keep them out of the wheelhouse and away from the engine room. Some people got roughed up, punched and kicked, and you know, arms twisted, and some cuts and bruises and things along that line. Nothing critical at that point."
"We had talked about what to do and how to be non-violent because the last thing you want to do is provoke armed soldiers. I've seen three newspapers since the plane landed in New Jersey, and several times the Israelis have been quoted as saying that their guys were armed with paint guns. Well, indeed they were, as well as pistols and automatic rifles and stun(?) grenades and pepper spray."
"It was a humanitarian aid mission. And I cannot speak for anybody on that trip except me and the people that I was associated with in going over there. And our hope was that the Israelis come to the conclusion that what they should do, which would avoid the kinds of things that have happened now, was to let the materials come in."
"Well, you now, nobody wants anything bad to happen to Israel, understand, and I'm certainly in that category. But I fear that bad things are going to happen if they keep doing what they're doing. And not just to Israel, bad things are going to happen to Palestinians and to Americans, because of what is happening in Palestine and also because of what is NOT happening in Palestine. All three groups are going to suffer."
After he returned to the U.S. Tuesday from Israel, Peck talked with other journalists as well. See the video below: