World, June 3, (Pal Telegraph – Agencies) An Irish activist seized by Israeli authorities in a commando operation on an aid flotilla has accused armed forces of carrying out an act of piracy.
Dublin-based Shane Dillon demanded the Israeli government lift its controversial blockade and allow the Irish ship MV Rachel Corrie to deliver aid to Gaza.
Describing the dramatic moments the Challenger 1 came under attack, he said the ship was surrounded by blacked-out vessels and helicopters before armed forces launched an assault at close range with stun guns and high-powered paintball pellets.
“I wouldn’t call them soldiers, they are terrorists,” said the emotional 36-year-old. “They attacked us in international waters. That was a pure act of piracy in international waters on a peace fleet.”
Mr Dillon touched down in Dublin Airport late on Tuesday night still in the green T-shirt and torn combats he wore when captured on Monday morning. He angrily denied accusations activists had weapons on board the ships.
“The weapons the Israelis displayed were cooking knives, a hammer. This was a big merchant ship, of course it’s going to have a hammer, of course it’s going to have galley knives,” he said.
He called on the Irish government to refer the incident with the Piracy Reporting Centre (PRC) in Kuala Lumpur and demand the Rachel Corrie is granted entry to Gaza. The defiant seafarer also challenged the Israeli government.
“Cop on, grow up, it’s about time you let people be treated well and treated properly and stop this stupid siege and blockade on a nation of people,” he said.
The crewman – who has served as chief officer on Irish and British merchant ships – maintained the fleet had expected to be let though the blockade.
“We didn’t expect it to be so severe and a severe loss of life. That was just ridiculous, it’s very sad,” he continued. “My heart goes out to the brothers, sisters, mothers and fathers and the families of those who died.”
June 4, (Pal Telegraph – By Lynda Brayer) During the pre-dawn hours of May 31, 2010, the Israeli Navy attacked the six civilian vessels of the Gaza Freedom Flotilla. The attack took place in international waters against ships flying under national flags of countries with which Israel is not at war, namely Turkey, Greece and the United States.
The ships were carrying civilians from more than sixteen countries.
Since no state of war existed at the time, the attack on these vessels constitutes an act of war against those governments under whose flags the vessels were sailing.
The attack falls within the purview of the ius ad bellum, those laws which govern the resort to armed conflict. Israel’s action does not fall into the category of the ius in bello or the laws which govern the actual conduct of war.
Because this attack was carried out in international waters, the status of the relationship between Hamas, or any other Palestinian body, and the state of Israel is of no relevance whatsoever. Likewise, neither the blockade of Gaza nor Israel’s claims and legal interpretations regarding it has any bearing on its acts of aggression in international waters.
This is not an act of piracy. Piracy is an act of aggression carried out in international waters by individuals and not by states.
The following internationally binding treaties, charters, and agreements are relevant to the attack by Israel:
1. Article 6 of the Charter Provisions of the Nuremburg Trials
(a) Crimes against Peace: namely, planning, preparation, initiation, or waging of a war of aggression, or a war in violation of international treaties, agreements or assurances, or participation in a common plan or conspiracy for the accomplishment of any of the foregoing;
(3) Crimes against Humanity: namely murder…deportation, and any other inhumane acts committed against any civilian population, before or during the war…in execution of or in connection with any crime…whether or not in violation of the domestic law of the country where perpetrated.
2. 1907 Hague Regulation Convention (XI) Relative to Certain Restrictions with Regard to the Exercise of the Right of Capture in Naval War
Chapter II – The Exemption from Capture of Certain Vessels
Article 4. Vessels charged with religious, scientific, or philanthropic missions are likewise exempt from capture.
The standard for judging the Israeli acts is objective and not subjective. It is irrelevant what Israeli ministers, generals, admirals, or soldiers thought or intended. The test is in what they did.
What they did was engage in acts of war using weapons of war in international waters against vessels that are protected not only in peacetime but also in times of war.
Israel has therefore committed both crimes against the peace and crimes against humanity.
These are crimes that have international jurisdiction. Israeli political and military personnel can be named in trials held in any and all countries of the world. If the Israelis do not attend the trials, they can be tried in abstentia, and those decisions in which the Israelis are found guilty can be executed anywhere in the world.
Because unarmed civilians were murdered by a preplanned military attack, capital crimes have been committed. While it would appear that the international community no longer finds capital punishment civilized, the punishments for these capital crimes can be multiple life sentences.
These crimes give rise to damage claims for huge sums of money and Israeli accounts can be blocked using decisions finding them guilty.
The unarmed vessels were on a philanthropic mission, carrying civilians and humanitarian supplies. Even if Israel were in a state of war with any of these countries, it would be prohibited from capturing the vessels according to the terms of the Hague Convention of 1907.
It follows, therefore, that Israel was first of all not allowed to attack these vessels militarily, and then not to board these vessels by force, capture these vessels, attack the passengers, imprison them on the vessels, forcibly remove them from the vessels, and steal their private property in the form of cameras, computers, clothes, etc.
Every single act carried out by the Israeli military forces in international waters no May 31, 2010, are unqualifiedly and absolutely violations of international law.
Lynda Brayer is a human rights lawyer who specialized in the laws of war and international law in representing Palestinians. She lives in Haifa. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
The Gaza Freedom Flotilla included six vessels on May 31, 2010
1. Mavi Marmara, passenger boat, Turkey
2. Sofia, cargo ship, Greece
3. Gaza I, cargo ship, Turkey
4. Gaza II, cargo ship, Turkey
5. Spendoni, passenger ship, Greece
6. Challenger I, passenger ship, United States
The majority of the passengers aboard the ships were Turkish citizens. There were also nationals from Britain, Australia, Greece, Canada, Malaysia, Algeria, Serbia, Belgium, Ireland, Norway, Sweden, Kuwait and the United States.
Three German parliamentarians were aboard the Turkish boat that was stormed. There were also two Palestinian Members of the Knesset. Swedish author Henning Mankell was also on board the flotilla.
By Jesse Bacon
Israel has stopped one boat, but it can’t stop the movement. Readers of this blog know the struggle has been going on long before the Gaza Freedom Flotilla set sail, and it continues and will only grow in strength. The protests commemorating the anniversary of the 1967 Occupation of the West Bank including East Jerusalem and Gaza Strip are carrying on, as more boats set sail for Gaza.
We’ll have live tweets so night owls and early risers in the United States can follow this protest over at Jewish Voice for Peace’s twitter feed. Then come back here tomorrow for a recap.
Tomorrow: Thousands to Mark 43 Years of Occupation Near Route 443
Palestinians and Israelis will demonstrate tomorrow, Friday, June 4th, near the village of Beit Nuba, which was demolished by Israel in 1967, near Route 443. Similar demonstrations, also denouncing the massacre aboard the Freedom Flotilla will take place across the West Bank.
Dozens of Israeli anti-Occupation organizations will join the Palestinian Popular Committees for a demonstration marking 43 years of occupation tomorrow. The protesters will denounce the killing aboard the Mavi Marmara, and call to end the siege over Gaza, to dismantle the Wall and settlements, and for freedom of movement for Palestinians.
MK Haneen Zouabi, who was aboard the Mavi Marmara,(the boat attacked by Israeli commandoes with at least 10 deaths) Mustafa Barghouti, head of the Palestinian al-Mubadara Party, Maher Ghuneim, Minister for the Wall in the Palestinian Authority, former MK Uri Avnery, and Palestinian Legislative Committee Members Qais Abd el-Karim (Abu Laila) and Mahmoud al-Aloul – will participate in the demonstration.
Additional demonstrations will take place in the villages on Nabi Saleh, north of Ramallah, Deir al-Ghussoun, north of Tul Karem, Ni’ilin – where demonstrators will also mark a year to the death of protester Aqel Srour by sniper-fire shot at him during a demonstration, and in the villages of Bil’in, West of Ramallah and al-Ma’asara, south of Bethlehem, where demonstrators will carry mock ships and will try to break the siege on their own villages.
Road to nowhere: During the occupation of the West Bank in June 1967, the Israeli army destroyed the villages of Yalu, Beit Nuba and Amuasse in the Latrun enclave. “Canada Park” and a number of settlements were built on their lands.
Most of the residents of these three displaced villages currently live in villages near Highway 443, such as Beit Liqya, Beit Sira and Beit Ur. In the eighties, thousands of acres were confiscated by Israel along the road, claiming that the road will serve as the main traffic artery for these villages to Ramallah.
However, the road has been closed for years for Palestinian vehicles. Following the High Court ruling on Route 443, a small section of the road was opened last week for Palestinian traffic, but is still nearly useless for the villagers, as access to Ramallah from it is disallowed, turning it into a highway to nowhere for Palestinians.