Many of you, who love Israel, are totally confused by what happened to the terrorist flotilla trying to break Israel’s naval blockade of Gaza. Below is the legal background. It is to be noted that the other ships in the
flotilla were boarded peacefully by Israeli soldiers, whose plan was to take the ships to the port of Ashdod where the supplies they wished to transfer to Gaza would be inspected and if they contained nothing to aid terrorism, would be transferred to the people of Gaza by Israel. Only one ship, the Mavi Marmara, decided to make war. Those aboard it got war, and it wasn’t pretty, but it was necessary. I hope you will read the information below, provided by Israel’s Foreign Ministry, and pass it on. The link to the website is on the bottom.
1. A maritime blockade is in effect off the coast of Gaza. Such blockade has been imposed, as Israel is currently in a state of armed conflict with the Hamas regime that controls Gaza, which has repeatedly bombed civilian
targets in Israel with weapons that have been smuggled into Gaza via the sea.
2. Maritime blockades are a legitimate and recognized measure under international law that may be implemented as part of an armed conflict at sea.
3. A blockade may be imposed at sea, including in international waters, so long as it does not bar access to the ports and coasts of neutral states.
4. The naval manuals of several western countries, including the U.S. and England recognize the maritime blockade as an effective naval measure and set forth the various criteria that make a blockade valid, including the requirement of giving due notice of the existence of the blockade.
5. In this vein, it should be noted that Israel publicized the existence of the blockade and the precise coordinates of such by means of the accepted international professional maritime channels. Israel also provided
appropriate notification to the affected governments and to the organizers of the Gaza protest flotilla. Moreover, in real time, the ships participating in the protest flotilla were warned repeatedly that a maritime blockade is in effect.
6. Here, it should be noted that under customary law, knowledge of the blockade may be presumed once a blockade has been declared and appropriate notification has been granted, as above.
7. Under international maritime law, when a maritime blockade is in effect, no boats can enter the blockaded area. That includes both civilian and enemy vessels.
8. A state may take action to enforce a blockade. Any vessel that violates or attempts to violate a maritime blockade may be captured or even attacked under international law. The US Commander’s Handbook on the Law of Naval Operations sets forth that a vessel is considered to be in attempt to breach a blockade from the time the vessel leaves its port with the intention of evading the blockade.
9. Here we should note that the protesters indicated their clear intention to violate the blockade by means of written and oral statements. Moreover, the route of these vessels indicated their clear intention to violate the
blockade in violation of international law.
10. Given the protesters explicit intention to violate the naval blockade, Israel exercised its right under international law to enforce the blockade. It should be noted that prior to undertaking enforcement measures, explicit warnings were relayed directly to the captains of the vessels, expressing Israel’s intent to exercise its right to enforce the blockade.
11. Israel had attempted to take control of the vessels participating in the flotilla by peaceful means and in an orderly fashion in order to enforce the blockade. Given the large number of vessels participating in the flotilla,
an operational decision was made to undertake measures to enforce the blockade a certain distance from the area of the blockade.
12. Israeli personnel attempting to enforce the blockade were met with violence by the protesters and acted in self defense to fend off such attacks.