*The Attack on the Gaza Freedom Flotilla and International Law* by Lawyers for Palestinian Human Rights
On 29 May 2010 the Gaza Freedom Flotilla, consisting of six civilian ships and 700 human rights activists and journalist from over 40 countries, set sail for the Gaza Strip carrying over 10,000 tonnes of aid and supplies1 for Gazan civilians. The purpose of the Flotilla was to bring much needed supplies for the reconstruction of Gaza ( Aid supplies included, amongst other things, medical supplies, concrete and other building materials.) , a territory and population that remains largely in ruins after Israel bombing during Operation Cast Lead in 2008-09 and to protest – a non-violent and peaceful protest – against Israel’s illegal military blockade against the Gaza Strip, which has, amongst other things, prevented any rebuilding since the Israeli bombing and engendered a humanitarian crisis.
Why did Israel prevent the Flotilla from reaching the Gaza Strip?
Israel has imposed, as part of its general blockade against Gaza, a blockade of the coastline around Gaza (20 nautical miles), preventing ships from entering, leaving and in many cases, operating within Gazan waters. Israel argues that it acted in order to prevent the Flotilla from breaching the blockade.
Does international law permit a costal blockade?
Imposing a blockade over a coastline is not legal under international law save in specific circumstances involving armed conflict: war must be declared (imposing a unilateral blockade is, in and of itself, an act of war) or Israel must be acting as a belligerent occupier (something which it strongly denies). Israel has declared a unilateral blockade around Gaza, arguing that it is in a state of war with Hamas. However, it is generally agreed that certain items – such as food, water, and medical supplies for the sick and wounded – are to be permitted through the blockade and that banning these items is not permitted under international law. Furthermore, with the exception of a binding decision by the United Nations Security Council, it is unlawful for a State to enforce a blockade against ships flying the flag of another State in the high seas.
The Legal Position on the Israeli Attackby Craig Murray
There are therefore two clear legal possibilities
Possibility one is that the Israeli commandos were acting on behalf of the government of Israel in killing the activists on the ships. In that case Israel is in a position of war with Turkey, and the act falls under international jurisdiction as a war crime.
The Court went to explain that,
“[F]ailing the existence of a permissive rule to the contrary, [a State] may not exercise its power in any form in the territory of another State. In this sense jurisdiction is certainly territorial; it cannot be exercised by a State outside its territory except by virtue of a permissive rule derived from international custom or from a convention...
Since the ship was flying a Turkish flag it was only subject to Turkish jurisdiction.
...A corollary of the principle of the freedom of the seas is that a ship on the high seas is assimilated to the territory of the State of the flag of which it flies, for, just as in its own territory, that State exercises its authority upon it, and no other State may do so.”
Dim lights Embed Embed this video on your site
Was the enforcement action – Israeli commandos boarding and attempting to take control of the ship through the use of weapons including live ammunition fire – legal under international law?
Both the international law of human rights and international humanitarian law require operations undertaken by armed forces – whether in law enforcement or armed conflict modes – to be proportionate. The 1990 Basic Principles o the Use of Force and Firearms by Law Enforcement Officials offer some guidance on this matter –
Did the human rights activists on board the ship have the right to repel the Israeli commanders on the basis of self-defence?
Since the initial boarding of the ship was likely illegal, the civilian passengers did had the right to act in self-defence against the invading soldiers. However, lawful self defence on the part of the civilians was limited to reasonable force in the circumstances. Since the ship’s flag determines the legal jurisdiction of the ship that it flies and, in this case, it was a Turkish flag, the precise rules on self-defence and the amount of force permitted, is determined by Turkish criminal law. However, given that the Israeli commanders were displaying firearms and the response appears to have been through the use of ‘sharp objects’ including ‘sticks’ and in some cases, ‘bladed weapons’, it is arguable that the response by the civilians was indeed proportional to the threat they faced, especially if evidence emerges that Israeli commandos had used their weapons on any civilians prior to their actions against the commandos.
What should happen next?
As the ship was flying a Turkish flag and pursuant to the principle of exclusive flag jurisdiction, Turkey has complete jurisdiction over the vessel, and it is within its rights to conduct and demand a full investigation into the violation of its sovereign rights and Israel’s violation of international law, including international human rights and humanitarian law provisions protecting the right to life of civilians and breaches of Turkish homicide law etc. Israel should be required to release all the evidence to the Turkish authorities and the civilians who have been kidnapped by Israel should be given immediate access to their consulates and legal assistance and be enabled to give their accounts to the Turkish authorities without delay. The full details of the dead and injured should be released to the consulates and published without delay to end the anxiety of waiting friends and relatives.
Maybe Izrael have a plan to meet Hitler in 9. hell circle for revenge
PJ Harvey, 'Let England Shake' - review+free album music news & cult free CDs
Read More 1946
Operation Satiagraha - Brazil Corruption Scandal exposed - Former Sao Paulo mayor, banker arrested recentnews
Read More 3196
How to read Codex Seraphinianus (Hallucinatory Encyclopedia) - The World's Weirdest Book + download free art news
Read More 4166
Read More 3283