Israel’s Latest Violation

Every time Israel’s right-wing government engages in yet another outrageous violation of international legal norms, it is easy to think, “No way are they going to get away with it this time!” And yet, thanks to the White House, Congress and leading American pundits, somehow, they do.

Israel’s attack on an unarmed flotilla of humanitarian aid vessels in the eastern Mediterranean — resulting in more than a dozen fatalities, the wounding of scores of passengers and crew, and the kidnapping of 750 others — has so far not proven any different.

Violation of Maritime Law

The bottom line is that under no circumstances does Israel, or any other country, have the right to board humanitarian aid vessels, guns blazing, in international waters. By most definitions, this is piracy, pure and simple. International maritime law gives the crew of ships attacked in international waters the right to defend themselves. Certainly it would have been better if the largely Turkish crew of the ship where most of the fatalities took place had not fought back. But it was well within their legal right to do so.

Israel’s actions raise a number of questions. Why didn’t the Israelis simply disable the rudders and guide the ships to port? Why did they have to board the ships with the guns blazing — according to eyewitnesses, before some members of the crew picked up their “weapons” of wrenches and poles — unless they intended to kill people?

Read the rest at Foreign Policy in Focus:
http://www.fpif.org/articles/israels_latest_violation