Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Freedom Flotilla

EARLY yesterday morning, Israeli commandos attacked the flotilla trying to run the blockade of Gaza and bring 10,000 tonnes of humanitarian aid to the 1.5 million inhabitants. At least a dozen people were killed.
In military terms this was not a big operation, but its repercussions are enormous and could be disastrous. The forces of a nation have attacked unarmed vessels on the high seas, in flagrant violation of international law. What happened yesterday was a crime.
 Photograph: Reuters
I tried to dig more to justify this stance termed as a breach of law. Lets have a look at the legality of convoy raid.

  • The UN Charter on the Law of the Sea says only if a vessel is suspected to be transporting weapons, or weapons of mass destruction, can it be boarded in international waters. Otherwise the permission of the ship's flag carrying nation must be sought.

  • The charter allows for naval blockades, but the effect of the blockade on civilians must be proportionate to the effect on the military element for the blockade to be legally enforceable.

  • A ship trying to breach a blockade can be boarded and force may be used to stop it as long as it is "necessary and proportionate".

  • The Israeli Defense Forces say soldiers acted in self-defence.

  • An investigation, either by the UN or by the ship's flag-carrier Turkey, is required to find if the use of force was proportionate to a claim of self defence.
What does this attack mean for the peace process? And what has the Israeli public's response been to the international criticism? Let us see what is in store in the coming days..

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