The organizer of the Gaza-bound flotilla dismissed Tuesday Israeli allegations that extremists aboard the ships plan to harm Israeli soldiers who would be dispatched to stop them.
Dror Feiler says the hundreds of people planning to sail soon in a bid to break Israel's naval blockade of the Palestinian territory have signed a declaration of nonviolence.
Feiler told Army Radio on Tuesday that if Israel has information about specific suspects, it should pass it along to flotilla's organizers.
Israeli military spokeswoman Maj. Avital Leibovich on Monday cited intelligence reports saying extremists in the flotilla have "dangerous incendiary chemicals" for use against Israeli forces.
Senior Israeli officials said at a press briefing on Monday that even though the Turkish organization IHH has withdrawn from the upcoming flotilla to Gaza, information recently obtained by Israel indicates that some passengers are planning on carrying out violent acts.
Since IHH was chiefly responsible for the violence aboard last year's flotilla, its withdrawal had initially seemed to obviate that threat. But it now seems that members of the group will be sailing on some of the ships, along with other Arab and Muslim activists, the officials said.
Two of these activists, they said, have known ties with Hamas: Amin Abu Rashad, who formerly headed a Hamas-linked charity in Holland that was shut down by the Dutch government for financing terror, and Mohammad Hannoun of the Italian ABSPP foundation, which Israel claims is also involved in financing terror.
The information also indicates that flotilla organizers may be stowing chemicals aboard for use against soldiers who board the ships, the officials said, adding that a few extremists among the organizers had been heard threatening in recent days "to spill the blood" of Israel Defense Forces soldiers.
Senior defense officials told Haaretz that the chemicals, including sulfur, are aboard ships carrying French and American passengers, among others."This is a dramatic development," one defense source said. "The picture emerging here is that some of the flotilla participants clearly intend a violent clash."
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