There’s no ambiguity here…the Israeli blockade and occupation of Gaza is illegal!
Israel’s deadly attack on the Gaza “Freedom Flotilla” was flagrantly illegal. The flotilla, carefully searched for arms before disembarkation, enjoyed the right of free navigation in international waters, and Israel had no legal justification to interrupt its peaceful mission.
Flotilla passengers were entitled to defend themselves against Israel’s forcible boarding of the Mavi Marmara, whether or not Israeli commandos fired immediately on landing on the ship’s deck, as the passengers maintain. Dropping 100 armed soldiers on a ship from the sky is not a peaceful maneuver. Nor can Israeli armed commandos claim self-defense, any more than a purse snatcher facing a victim who elects to fight back. Hence, Israel is culpable for the killings that followed.
Israel has claimed that it is in “armed conflict” with the Hamas government in the Gaza Strip and that its actions on the high seas to enforce the blockade of the Gaza Strip are therefore permissible. That claim is wrong.
In fact, under customary international law that Israel accepts as binding, Israel continues to occupy the Gaza Strip, despite the withdrawal of its ground troops and settlers from that region in 2005. A territory is “occupied” when foreign forces exercise “effective control” over it, whether accomplished through the continuous presence of ground troops or not.
Israel patrols the territorial waters and airspace of the Gaza Strip, regulates Gaza’s land borders, restricts internal movements by excluding Gazans from a “buffer zone” that includes 46 percent of the strip’s agricultural land, and controls the Gaza Strip’s supplies of electricity, heating oil, and petrol. Together these factors amount to remote but “effective control.” Thus, the Gaza Strip remains occupied, as the United Nations, the U.S. government and the International Committee of the Red Cross have all recognized.
Israel has authority to halt arms imports into the Gaza Strip. But it also owes a general duty of protection to civilians under its control, and has specific duties to allow them access to adequate food and medical supplies, and to maintain public health standards – duties it has deliberately violated in imposing the siege on Gaza. Currently 77.2 percent of Gaza Palestinians either face or are vulnerable to hunger; of these, 65 percent are children younger than 18. According to UNICEF, 10 percent of Gaza children show signs of stunting, while the World Health Organization maintains that another 10 percent face chronic malnutrition.
Moreover, collective punishment is specifically barred under Article 33 of the Fourth Geneva Convention. Israeli officials have repeatedly stated that the objective of the blockade is to weaken the Gaza economy and undermine support for Hamas. That is a political, not a military, objective, and it is impermissible under international law to target innocent civilians to achieve nonmilitary goals.
Actions taken to enforce an illegal siege cannot themselves be legal. Israel’s blockade violates the human rights of Gaza Palestinians and must be brought to an end.
Israel’s attack on the “Freedom Flotilla” is the logical consequence of years of Israeli impunity from international law – abetted by the diplomatic cover provided it by our government. At some point, genuine friends of both Israeli Jews and Palestinian Arabs must impress on Israel that its serial lawlessness is good for no one, multiplying resentment and pain, and pushing the prospects of regional peace into a more distant future.
When it comes to Israel that bar keeps getting lower and lower. I just finished reading a NYT article, In Bid to Quell Anger Over Raid, Israel Frees Detainees which proclaimed
Israel worked Wednesday to defuse rising international anger by agreeing to a rapid release of all detainees — including those suspected of attacking its soldiers — taken after the deadly nighttime raid of six ships seeking to break its blockade of the Gaza Strip.
The release seemed most immediately aimed at repairing dangerously eroding ties with Turkey, Israel’s main ally in the Muslim world, as demands continued to intensify around the world to end a blockade that critics say has kept Gazans isolated and impoverished.
which seems to imply Israel was doing the activists a favor by releasing them even though they “attacked” IDF soldiers. This is the same theme repeated in defense of Israeli action that fateful morning; the Israelis inflicted casualties on people only after they were attacked, which begs the questions why were they attacked? The fight didn’t happen in a vacuum; indeed it occurred only after Israeli soldiers first fired on and then assaulted the flotilla that was at the time in international waters, far from the coast of Gaza, its intended target or better yet, Israel its final destination. However, Israelis would have you believe the people on board those vessels were the worst of the worst terrorists and of course have even thrown in the word al-Qaida to frighten people even more. It doesn’t matter that the al-Qaida label applied to the organizers of the flotilla is as false and non-existent as the one many tried to affix to Saddam Hussein; the mere mention of the word generates the “shock” value that legitimizes any reaction even illegal ones.
The Israelis who probably just a few short weeks ago were leading the calls for freedom of the press in response to the Draw Muhammad day fiasco dreamed up by people who want to antagonize members of the Islamic faith, went on to perform the best press censorship of the modern era, by taking all the recording devices from any and everyone on any ships and not releasing them while spinning their (Israeli) yarns about what went on during that dreaded encounter. The IDF even went so far as to release their video version of events and the aftermath, which was as sloppy as the tale they tried to spin. For example, it was discovered that pictures of some of the “weapons” they claimed to have confiscated and displayed were taken several years ago and other photographs showed instruments, rather tools, one would expect to see on a boat that handled several hundred passengers and cargo not the weapons Israelis hoped one would dream up when it was said they were fired on or assaulted. Those pictures immediately discredited the scenario the Israelis painted of having been fired on by passengers during their own assault on the ship; there were no firearms on any of the vessels except the firearms the Israelis brought when they pirated the ships.
We still don’t have a casualty count from the Israelis, not that anyone is asking any more, but it would certainly tell us the extent of the killing that went on that night. There is at least one account that says the Israelis threw some bodies overboard into the water. Nor do we know just how badly wounded and how many there are of the other people involved in the flotilla. Main stream media has settled on the number 9 but other accounts have said as many as 20 were killed and so what will happen is people will begin to quibble about numbers and forget about the fact that those numbers represent people who were murdered for there is absolutely no justification for the Israeli boarding of those boats in international waters or anywhere near the coast of Gaza. The blockade of Gaza is not meant to secure Israeli borders……it is an act of war and intimidation used to impoverish an entire group of people and frighten others from coming to their aid in order for the Israelis to seize the land they want those people to abandon and grab the natural resources contained therein. We’ve already posted stories here on Miscellany101 of Palestinian farmers and fisherman who have been killed or wounded while going about their daily business of subsistence living in plain view, during daylight hours when there was no ambiguity about their actions or intentions, by IDF. What was the security risk they posed, other than their living, as they went about the daily chores associated with gathering food and providing for their families? What group did they represent to the Israelis as they toiled on their boats, in an area off the coast of GAZA, not Israel, that was an existential threat? We have grown used to this war of attrition the Israelis are waging against unarmed civilians to the extent we don’t even ask those kinds of questions anymore. Instead we are fed the diet of the importance of Israel maintaining its security and the rights of victims of Israeli aggression are never considered and their deaths continue. Israel has no right to murder farmers and fishermen, but that axiom of law is lost in the clamor about Israel’s right to self defense.
In like fashion, the argument about Israel’s latest atrocity never addresses the illegal nature of the Israeli blockade of Gaza which has slowly been lost in the noise about international waters. Instead we’re told indignantly how the flotilla was well away from the Israeli imposed blockade limit, miles away in fact, in international waters. That too has become another encroachment that will fall to the Israeli march towards total abandonment of law and order as the Israelis claim they were fired upon by members of the flotilla who were out to lynch these heroes of Israel’s gestapo storm troopers when they descended onto the ships. Israel didn’t consider for one moment international law and boundaries and it doesn’t want you to either when it comes to their illegal activity. And have you heard how tolerant the Israelis were by boarding ships with non lethal paint guns and how they only resorted to deadly force when they were attacked, as if they magically appeared on those ships or were passengers all along from the moment they set sail from ports in Cyprus who had to defend themselves suddenly and unexpectedly from bloodthirsty anti-semitic activists who turned on them, endangering their lives.
The very idea of Israel confronting the ships was illegal, and the actions which ensued during or after that confrontation were murderous at best, war crimes/atrocities at worse. What’s sad is an American administration’s reaction to such criminal behavior, ostensibly done in its name; Joe Biden suggesting murder is no big deal, Obama being absolutely silent on the issue and America before the UN watering down any resolutions critical, not condemnatory mind you, of Israeli action. This all because the international community has continued to dismiss pass transgressions and only focus on current ones which are increasingly more narrowed and defined by Israel. Israeli soldiers were attacked, even though they were engaged in internationally criminal activity, but that’s not a big deal, they were attacked and some were injured, even though they themselves murdered unarmed citizens, but that’s not important because they have a right to know what was contained on the boats, even though they sabotaged some of them while they were at port but that’s not a big deal, and so it goes. And did you know an American was killed on one of the boats, shot four times in the head, but the US government is used to its citizens being killed by Israelis and so that’s not a big deal either.
A more complete list in pdf, here at gaza restrictions.