Will somebody please tell me what right the State Dept. has to try to prevent human rights activists from sailing in international waters?
This does not impact the U.S. The ships are not sailing from US shores, they are not government-authorized ships and they are a humanitarian group engaging in civil disobedience! To treat this as though it’s a full scale terror attack on Israel is really unbecoming an administration that claims to care about human rights.
I know I’m like a dog with a bone about this but the fact is, for me, the State Department’s actions are personal.
I am so disappointed in the State Department. Their actions are so over-the-top that if I didn’t know better I’d think that AIPAC was in charge right now. As a Hillary fan I keep trying to make excuses for her “it’s not her fault,” “she’s just following orders,” “it’s really Obama,” but honestly, I still don’t feel persuaded by my own attempts at rationalizing the State Department’s actions.
Even though there is tremendous domestic pressure on the Obama administration [from the Lobby and Jewish groups] to speak out against the Flotilla, they could have done so that made it clear that a) the protection of American citizens is always a top priority and b) that both sides should demonstrate the utmost restraint. No one expects the administration to don pom-poms and celebrate the Flotilla to Gaza, but as I have said repeatedly, many in the human rights community and the independent media are interpreting Secretary Clinton’s statements from last Thursday and Friday as a green light for Israel to use any means necessary to stop the Flotilla, all in the name of self-defense.
There is a concerted effort by the Lobby to portray Flotilla participants and their supporters as pro-terrorist, anti-Israel and anti-Semitic. It’s all nonsense. By portraying them as supporters of Hamas as opposed to a humanitarian group, they are providing not only a narrative but a casus belli where Israel can respond militarily with as much force as it deems necessary.
The navy plans to stop the flotilla far from Gaza, after issuing a warning that the territory is under a sea blockade.
“If the ships continue sailing after being warned, then we will have the right to stop them even if they did not yet enter Gaza’s territorial waters,” a defense official explained.
Also on Sunday, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu convened his security cabinet for final briefings from top naval officials and security officials on the Gaza-bound flotilla.
The ministers heard intelligence reports regarding the number of vessels, the passengers on board, and what the ships are carrying. The government has declared that the flotilla will not be allowed to enter Gaza, but will rather – if necessary – be towed into Ashdod Port and the equipment on the ships impounded.
Israeli officials expressed satisfaction that Cyprus has banned the use of it ports for the enterprise, and that Greece and numerous other countries – such as the US, Canada, France and Australia – have issued strong warnings to their citizens not to participate.
Before last year’s flotilla, diplomatic officials said, fewer statements against taking part were made by governments around the world, partly because the initiative was not seen as particularly significant.
Foreign Ministry spokesman Yigal Palmor, when asked how Israel will deal with foreigners who do take part in the current flotilla, said, “The same rules that applied last year still apply now: There is a naval blockade on Gaza. It is obviously forbidden to breach it. Those who do, or who manifest their intention to deliberately do so, will not be allowed to proceed and will be treated according to the San Remo Manual and relevant Security Council resolutions.”
The San Remo Manual on International Law Applicable to Armed Conflicts at Sea is a codification of customary international law.
Ok, a couple of things about the parts I highlighted:
1. It is clear that Israel again plans to board the ships in international waters, which is illegal. They can do that in their own territorial waters, but they can’t just harass/board. /attack a civilian ship in international waters.
2. No, The San Remo Manual does not apply in this situation. See here.
3. There is something a tad ironic about Israel invoking UN Security Council resolutions. You know, given they tend to see adhering to them as optional. For example, Resolution 446, an excerpt of which is below:
(The Council) Determines that the policy and practices of Israel in establishing settlements in the Palestinian and Arab territories occupied since 1967 have no legal validity and constitute a serious obstruction to achieving a comprehensive and lasting peace in the Middle East; Calls once more upon Israel, as the occupying power, to abide scrupulously by the 1949 Fourth Geneva Convention, to rescind it’s previous measures and to desist from taking any action which would result in changing the legal status and geographical nature and materially affecting the demographic composition of the Arab territories occupied since 1967, including Jerusalem, and in particular, not to transfer parts of its own civilian population into the occupied Arab territories…