ABC’s Lisa Chinn reports:

Ambassador Edward Peck, 80 years old, and the former Chief of Mission in Baghdad decided to take the trip to Gaza because they were trying to get materials to “Gazans need and are denied.” Peck, who returned from his mission by way of Israel – who ‘deported’ him remains “disappointed that Israel” chose to respond the way it has to what he calls a humanitarian mission.


Peck, a retired career diplomat and no stranger to controversy these past few years – he was a bold and loud opponent to Bush Administration’s decision to invade Iraq in 2003, maintains that the bulk of material that was being brought to Gaza was “hospital equipment, building materials, and prefabricated housing.”

Peck saw no serious violence when the Israelis boarded the ship, and in fact, slept through most of it, saying it occurred in the early morning hours, around 4 a.m, and that by the time he got above board, the siege, which was peaceful, was over.

“I jumped out of bed fully clothed because there are no facilities on the ship. No shower, no wash, no nothin’ and went upstairs and there I encountered a group of Israeli commandos who said, ‘sit down,’ we heard that a lot, ‘sit down.’ They were by that time in control of the ship and fine. You know, they didn’t harm anybody after that. They harmed some folks in getting on board as people tried to block them from taking over. “

The ship he was on was far from the main, larger ship that may have seen the most violent action. Peck said they had been told Israelis might attempt to block the flotilla, and that those aboard his smaller ship had discussed in advance how they would handle such an event. After being taken, they were “incommunicado” in the words of Peck, and were unaware of what had happened to others in the flotilla. Peck said he had “concern that it might have been much rougher on some of the other ships. It was. People were tasered. People were shot. You know, people died on some of the other ships because they resisted. We didn’t . We had already talked amongst ourselves as to what we were going to do. I got there too late to lock arms around the wheelhouse because it was all over by that time.”

Ambassador Peck, who was deported from Israel and flown into the U.S. this morning, returning to his Chevy Chase, MD home the way so many Washingtonians do after a long flight – by Metro. Peck returned with only the clothes on his back and the hat on his head, and his take on being ‘deported’ from Israel is bit humorous, given the difficulties he experienced, telling ABC NEWS that the Israelis told him, “You’ve broken Israeli law, I said ‘which one?’ They said you have entered the country illegally. I said I’m sorry. But if I’m brought into the country under armed escort that is not entering the country illegally. Forcibly. We’ll they don’t agree with that. I was deported so I suppose that goes on my record. “

For his part, Peck believes this will be a “major political flap” for Israel and that “bad things have happened, are happening and will happen as long as what’s going on in Palestine and what isn’t going on in Palestine continues, that’s a dead end street, as several of Israel’s leaders have said.”

June 1, 2010 | Permalink | Share | User Comments (25)