City of Brass

City of Brass


Pirates of the Mediterranean

posted by Aziz Poonawalla

via Richard Silverstein of Tikkun Olam blog, the Israeli military has boarded and forcibly confiscated the crew and cargo of a humanitarian ship bound for Gaza, carrying medicine, toys and other supplies, in international waters. The list of passengers taken hostage include journalists, American film-maker Adam Shapiro, and former Congresswoman Cynthia McKinney, who made this statement:

“This is an outrageous violation of international law against us. Our boat was not in Israeli waters, and we were on a human rights mission to the Gaza Strip,” said Cynthia McKinney, a former U.S. Congresswoman and presidential candidate. “President Obama just told Israel to let in humanitarian and reconstruction supplies, and that’s exactly what we tried to do. We’re asking the international community to demand our release so we can resume our journey.”

This is no less an act of piracy than the Somalis who boarded the Maersk Alabama. However, the likely counterargument will be that the official definition of piracy in the UNCLOS Article 101 specifically defines piracy as an act “by the crew or the passengers of a private ship”, which means by definition that a nation-state can never be a pirate state if the action is performed by its naval vessels. Perhaps the Geneva Conventions are a better recourse for legal action here?

The press release from Free Gaza follows. Contacct information for the Israeli Ministries of Justice, Foreign Affairs, and the Prime Ministers office, as well as the Internatioonal Committee of the Red Cross offices in Israel, Switzerland and the USA are also provided at their site.

ISRAEL ATTACKS JUSTICE BOAT; KIDNAPS HUMAN RIGHTS WORKERS; CONFISCATES MEDICINE, TOYS AND OLIVE TREES

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

30 June 2009

For more information contact:

Greta Berlin (English)

tel: +357 99 081 767 / friends@freegaza.org

Caoimhe Butterly (Arabic/English/Spanish):

tel: +357 99 077 820 / sahara78@hotmail.co.uk

www.FreeGaza.org

[23 miles off the coast of Gaza, 15:30pm] – Today Israeli Occupation Forces attacked and boarded the Free Gaza Movement boat, the SPIRIT OF HUMANITY, abducting 21 human rights workers from 11 countries, including Noble laureate Mairead Maguire and former U.S. Congresswoman Cynthia McKinney (see below for a complete list of passengers). The passengers and crew are being forcibly dragged toward Israel.

“This is an outrageous violation of international law against us. Our boat was not in Israeli waters, and we were on a human rights mission to the Gaza Strip,” said Cynthia McKinney, a former U.S. Congresswoman and presidential candidate. “President Obama just told Israel to let in humanitarian and reconstruction supplies, and that’s exactly what we tried to do. We’re asking the international community to demand our release so we can resume our journey.”

According to an International Committee of the Red Cross report released yesterday, the Palestinians living in Gaza are “trapped in despair.” Thousands of Gazans whose homes were destroyed earlier during Israel’s December/January massacre are still without shelter despite pledges of almost $4.5 billion in aid, because Israel refuses to allow cement and other building material into the Gaza Strip. The report also notes that hospitals are struggling to meet the needs of their patients due to Israel’s disruption of medical supplies.

“The aid we were carrying is a symbol of hope for the people of Gaza, hope that the sea route would open for them, and they would be able to transport their own materials to begin to reconstruct the schools, hospitals and thousands of homes destroyed during the onslaught of “Cast Lead”. Our mission is a gesture to the people of Gaza that we stand by them and that they are not alone” said fellow passenger Mairead Maguire, winner of a Noble Peace Prize for her work in Northern Ireland.

Just before being kidnapped by Israel, Huwaida Arraf, Free Gaza Movement chairperson and delegation co-coordinator on this voyage, stated that: “No one could possibly believe that our small boat constitutes any sort of threat to Israel. We carry medical and reconstruction supplies, and children’s toys. Our passengers include a Nobel peace prize laureate and a former U.S. congressperson. Our boat was searched and received a security clearance by Cypriot Port Authorities before we departed, and at no time did we ever approach Israeli waters.”

Arraf continued, “Israel’s deliberate and premeditated attack on our unarmed boat is a clear violation of international law and we demand our immediate and unconditional release.”

###



  • Craigsolve

    If you want to be a journalist, you will personally get both sides of the story. To publish a press release from Free Gaza as news is an act of propaganda that does not help to bridge the understanding or misunderstanding of two competing people and faiths. Trying to sail into Gaza without clearing Israeli Customs, during these times of international terrorism, is a provocative act justifying naval interdiction by a prudent people.
    If the original shipper was serious about sending humanitarian aid they would not have included the human dead-wood and they would have used usual and customary shipping protocols.
    wa alaikum assalam

  • Abokhan

    well, it seems nowdays those in the seat of power decide when do rules apply and when they dont and whom it applies to. Of course it is easy to have a double standard on “terrorism” especially if you are calling the shot. The israeli militayr does not act any less brutl than the nazis did. what an irony. If it wasnt for the ss thee would be no israel today, nor would they have an army that behave as such.

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