No 597 Posted by fw October 23, 2012
The following news release from the IHH Humanitarian Relief Foundation was excerpted from an article appearing in today’s The Electronic Intifada. Kudos to both organizations for their bold action, which Israel and the US will undoubtedly ignore. To read the full report click on the linked title below.
Istanbul, TR, 22 Oct 2012 – Mavi Marmara Lawyers filed a complaint [with the Istanbul Public Prosecutor] against Israel for the seizure of Estelle at the Istanbul Office of Public Prosecutor.
Netanyahu, Barak and Lieberman among those cited in the complaint
Shimon Peres (President of the State of Israel),Benjamin Netanyahu (Prime Minister of Israel), Ehud Barak (Minister of Defense and Deputy Prime Minister), Avigdor Lieberman (Israeli Minister of Foreign Affairs and Deputy Prime Minister of Israel), Benny Gantz (Chief of General Staff of the Israel Defense Forces), Ram Rothberg (Head of the Israel Navy) and others who directly involved in the operation and commanders have been accused in the complaint for arbitrary arrest, confiscating maritime or railway transportation vehicles, intentionally causing damage to property, preventing communication, possible crimes against humanity.
Israeli forces in violation of UN Law of the Sea Convention and International Humanitarian Law & Human Rights Law
“On the 20th of October, approximately around 10:15 (CET) hours, Israeli Naval Forces boarded Estelle, took it over and routed it to Port Ashdod. At this moment the vessel was approximately 30 nautical miles from the nearest shore. According to Article 3 of the 1982 United Nations Law of the Sea Convention, the territorial waters of a State are maximum 12 nautical miles. This means Estelle was sailing in international waters. In international waters all states enjoy freedom of navigation and the flag state regime applies. No State may exercise any kind of jurisdiction over foreign vessels as long as there is no suspicion of slave trading, weapons or drug smuggling, piracy or unauthorized broadcasting. Since none of these exceptions existed, Israel had no right to stop and seize Estelle.” said in the complaint.
The complaint statement continued as follows: “Imposing a naval blockade is only possible in an International Armed Conflict which requires at least two conflicting States. Since Israel does not recognize the State of Palestine, the conditions for an International Armed Conflict are not fulfilled. Therefore there is also no legal ground to impose a naval blockade on the Gaza Strip.
The rules of International Humanitarian Law require the free passage of humanitarian aid to territories under occupation. By denying the passage of the humanitarian aid on Estelle the accused parties have clearly violated this rule and also the rules of Human Rights Law, which are applicable during peace time and continue to apply also during war time. The accused parties should be held responsible for these violations.
These Israeli crimes fall within the scope of universal jurisdiction and Turkey is required to take legal action
The State of Israel (the president, prime-minister and others in charge) has accepted the act as its own and that they have given the order. These crimes committed by Israel are universal and fall within the scope of the universal jurisdiction of all states. Being a State of Law, it is not acceptable for the Republic of Turkey to not take action.
The Turkish Penal Code provides Universal Jurisdiction in the articles 12 and 13. This provides the Turkish Judicial Authorities all necessary jurisdiction and responsibility. For these reasons a criminal investigation should be started for the Head of State, superiors who prepared and commanded the operation and all subordinates being part of the operation and a criminal case should be filed.”
About the humanitarian passengers aboard the Estelle and their goal
Human Rights activists and humanitarian aid volunteers from all around the world sailed with the boat Estelle on the 20th of June 2012 from Sweden. Their aim was to break the illegal blockade imposed by Israel on the Gaza Strip and to bring humanitarian aid to the people of Gaza, including medical aid. Among the passengers of Estelle were six European Parliamentarians; former Canadian parliamentarian James Manly, Norwegian parliamentarian Akse Hagen, Swedish Parliamentarian Sven Britton, Greek parliamentarians Dimitros Kodelas and Evangelos Diamantopoulos and Spanish parliamentarian Ricardo Sixto.
The official establishment and institutional structure of the IHH Humanitarian Relief Foundation, whose preliminary foundation was laid by a group of charitable people to extend humanitarian aid to Bosnia in 1992 during the war years, was completed in 1995. The IHH aims to reach every region hit by wars, disasters, poverty and human rights abuses, and believes that civilian initiatives play a complementary role beside intervention by states and international organizations in resolving humanitarian problems. IHH is also one of the organizers of Gaza Freedom Flotilla in 2010.