Illegal Blockades 106


A new Gaza freedom convoy is preparing to sail, this time including a US flagged vessel. My friends Ann Wright and Ray McGovern are going to be on it. Ray tells me the ship, which is registered in Delaware, has been renamed “The Audacity of Hope”. I am not quite sure if he is joking. I hope it is true as the irony is delicious.

The boarding of a US flagged ship on the High Seas is something which, in any other circumstances, the US would never tolerate, and I am hoping that it will give Clinton a headache now – which is why that possible ship name would be so great. What is for certain, is that a US court would have jurisdiction over any incidents that happen on board, and I cannot imagine any US judge would renounce that jurisdiction. So if the Israelis shoot Ann, Ray or any of their fellow passengers, the implications could be profound.

At Ray and Ann’s request, I have added my weight to the legal assessment of their actions:

Ambassador Craig Murray is a former Alternate Head of the UK Delegation to the United Nations Preparatory Commission on the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea. He was deputy head of the teams which negotiated the UK’s maritime boundaries with France, Germany, Denmark (Faeroe Islands) and Ireland.

As Head of the Maritime Section of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, he was responsible for giving real time political and legal clearance to Royal Navy boarding operations in the Persian Gulf following the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait, in enforcement of the UN authorised blockade against Iraqi weapons shipments.

Ambassador Craig Murray is therefore an internationally recognised authority on maritime jurisdiction and naval boarding issues.

“The legal position is plain. A vessel outwith the territorial waters (12 mile limit) of a coastal state is on the high seas under the sole jurisdiction of the flag state of the vessel. The ship has a positive right of passage on the high seas. The coastal state can regulate economic activity exploiting the resources of the seas and continental shelf up to 200 miles, the extent of the continental shelf, or the agreed boundary, but there is no indication of fishing, oil drilling or analagous economic activity in this case. The vessel is entitled to free passage.”

“This right of free passage is guaranteed by the UN Convention on the Law of the Seas, to which the United States is a full party. Any incident which takes place upon a US flagged ship on the High Seas is subject to United States legal jurisdiction. A ship is entitled to look to its flag state for protection from attack on the High Seas.”

“Israel has declared a blockade on Gaza and justified previous fatal attacks on neutral civilian vessels on the High Seas in terms of enforcing that embargo, under the legal cover given by the San Remo Manual of International Law Applicable to Armed Conflicts at Sea.”

“There are however fundamental flaws in this line of argument. It falls completely on one fact alone. San Remo only applies to blockade in times of armed conflict. Israel is not currently engaged in an armed conflict, and presumably does not wish to be. San Remo does not confer any right to impose a permanent blockade outwith times of armed conflict, and in fact specifically excludes as illegal a general blockade on an entire population.”

“It should not be denied that Israel suffers from sporadic terrorist attacks emanating from Gaza. However this does not come close to reaching the bar of armed conflict that would trigger the right to impose a limited naval blockade in terms of San Remo. To make a comparison, in the 1970’s and 1980’s the United Kingdom suffered continued terrorist attack from the Irish Republican Army, with much more murderous impact causing many more deaths than anything Israel has suffered in recent years from Gaza. However nobody would seek to argue that the UK would have had the right to mount a general naval blockade of the Republic of Ireland in the 1970’s and 1980’s, even though the Republic was undoubtedly the base for much IRA supply and operations. Justifications of Israeli naval action against neutral civilian ships by San Remo is based on special pleading and an impossibly strained definition of the term “armed conflict”. ”

Craig Murray

They already have a more thorough and academic piece here, which I cannot fault.

All the boats and volunteers from various countries have my most earnest good wishes, and admiration for their courage as they brave the attentions of the murderous thugs of the Israeli state.


106 thoughts on “Illegal Blockades

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  • Suhayl Saadi

    Well said and done, Craig and friends! Good luck to ‘The Audacity of Hope’. Now let’s see if the usual jolly rogers come out of the woodwork to comment upon this post… Methinks what we need is Johnny Depp on board. Now that would be a coup indeed (!)

  • YugoStiglitz

    OK, so you’re a maritime legal expert. Does registering a vessel in a U.S. state confer a U.S. flag? Is this ship prepared to comply with all the regulatory requirements that the U.S. Coast Guard enforces?

  • Tim

    Given that Israel got away with the attack on the USS Liberty (8 June 1967) actually owned and operated by the US Government, I would not rely too much on “old glory” in this context.

  • mark_golding

    The ‘Big One’ and good luck Ray – thinking of you all the way – keep safe.

    In 2003 Ex CIA analyst and veteran Ray McGovern said, “The intelligence process is a bit like virginity, once you prostitute it, it’s never the same. Your credibility never recovers.”

    “Watching what has happened with Iraq over the past several months has been like watching your daughter being raped.”

    Ray chaired the National Intelligence Estimates during the seventies and in 2004 he criticized the official account of 9/11 and called for a new investigation. Ray said, “I think at simplest terms, there’s a cover-up. The 9/11 Report is a joke.”

    He concluded by saying, “There are a whole bunch of unanswered questions. And the reason they’re unanswered is because this administration will not answer the questions.”

    On the Iraq war Ray said, “As the Downing Street memos show, that the stated reason for attacking Iraq was a lie. It is also the case that the whole “war on terror” was based on a prior deception.

    Ray McGovern, is the founder of VIPS (Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity), and is one of many signers of a petition to reinvestigate 9/11.

  • edwin

    So Yugo – if the vessel engages in breaches of US law – take it to US court – unless the ship is within 12 KM of Israel’s borders/territory.

    It really isn’t that difficult. The legality of activities of those on board is completely irrelevant to the discussion here. Outside the 12KM limit it is under US jurisdiction. All crimes would be prosecutable within a US court room. If it is within 12 KM of Israel’s borders (wherever the fuck they are) then it is Israel’s jurisdiction.

    So Craig – what happens if the ship is within 12 KM of Gaza and Gaza is not occupied (according to Israel) and Israel has no recognized borders – and claims no borders in the region? Am I correct in assuming that without any claim of what its borders are it has no territorial waters – or are we to assume that the 1948 boundary represents its borders?

  • YugoStiglitz

    Sorry, Mark, but the fact that McGovern thinks that 911 was an inside job renders him one of the least credible opinion-holders on the Palestinian issue. 911 was clearly perpetrated by 19 Arab Muslims.

  • YugoStiglitz

    Edwin, I don’t think you quite get it. It’s likely not a U.S.-flagged vessel from the get-go. Registering a boat with a state government does not confer a flag. If I register my motorboat in Illinois, it’s not a U.S.-flagged vessel. There are manning requirements, environmental regulations, tax issues, etc.

    I would have expected Craig Murray to know this, as he claims to be an expert in maritime law. This is where a good legal education is essential – as a lawyer, you are trained to always engage in an effort to spot the issues. Here, it seems that Craig Murray is taking the word of other non-lawyers that it is a U.S. flagged vessel, merely because these folks sent in a check to the state of Delaware.

    A quick Internet search tells me that this is quite often a scam to get foreigners to think that they have a U.S.-flagged vessel. I can’t believe that Ray McGovern fell for this scam. Wait, let me correct that. I absolutely believe that it would be predictable for Ray McGovern to fall for this scam.

  • YugoStiglitz

    Mark, thanks for the video – McGovern can’t help but compare himself to Jesus, Gandhi and MLK. Well, there you go.

  • mark_golding

    Ex colonel Ann Wright is a ‘woman of steel’ – an amazing lady who received a US Award for Heroism for her actions during the evacuation of 2,500 people from the civil war in Sierra Leone, the largest evacuation since Saigon.

    Ann has extraordinary vision and in a number of prominent speeches in 2003 she stated that the Iraq war would be a disaster.

    Ann sent a letter of resignation to Colin Powell on the eve of ‘shock & awe’ and devoted her time to protesting the Iraq war including fasting for a month. She was arrested several time during the Bush Jnr presidency. She has been on delegations to Iran and was in Gaza three times in 2009, following the Israeli attack on Gaza that killed 1,440 and wounded 5,000. She was an organizer for the Gaza Freedom March that brought 1,350 persons from 44 countries to Cairo, Egypt, in solidarity with the people of Gaza. She was on the May, 2010 Gaza flotilla that was attacked by the Israeli military.

    Bless you Ann you are an inspiration, fearless and intelligent; you are my hero.

  • craig Post author

    Edwin,

    It is not at all unusual for a country not to have defined its maritime boundaries – it was only in the mid 1990s when I was involved in defining most of the UK’s maritime boundaries. Disputes between states are one key reason why boundaries are often not defined yet. But the state’s right to twelve miles is generally accepted. Israel of course has very little coastline, and there is no reason why the ship should pass anywehre liable to any potential Israeli territorial waters claim. It is also worth noting that Israel specifically states it is not in legal terms an “occupying power” in Gaza.

    Yugostiglitz,

    Maintenance of the international shipping register, as that is a matter of recognised obligation between states, must be a federal matter. Registration specifies a state and home port (it is normally the home port that is displayed under the ships name) and that is where I presumed Delaware came in. You are quite right that membership of the shipping register will entail obligations to a number of safety, work practice, manning, environmental and other requirements. That is why sadly the shipping registers of the UK and US have declined and most international vessels are registered in tinpot countries with no effective environmental and safety regulation.

    The vessel is currently in Greece, and the Greek port authorities will have checked its papers and flag. I have not checked its papers and assume that it is US flagged because I was told so. I will certainly advise them to check. The registration of the Mavi Marmara was switched from Turkey to the Comoros Islands immediately before sailing, with disastrous consequences.

    Your posts are a helpful reminder to check the registration; I will amke sure the campaigners do that.

  • Ed Davies

    “…is preparing to sale”. Sail.

    More substantially, what’s the position when it gets within 12 NM of the coast of Gaza? I have to admit that I’m very foggy about the legal situation of Gaza – probably because everybody else is too. Still, I was surprised that the Israelis didn’t leave it until then last time round as they don’t seem to have much problem justifying, at least to their friends, interventions within Gaza’s territory.

  • mark_golding

    Letter to Rep. Barbara Lee from Henry Norr:

    The Audacity of Hope is a U.S.-registered, U.S.-flagged vessel. It will carry approximately 50 American passengers and crew, including at least seven other Californians (among them Alice Walker) – for details, see http://ustogazawest.org. All participants are sworn and committed to non-violence, and of course we will be completely unarmed. We have no intention of entering or even going near Israel or Israeli territorial waters. Lest we be accused of assisting anyone on the U.S. government’s terrorist list, the U.S. boat this year will not even carry medical supplies or children’s toys, just letters from Americans to the people of Gaza.

  • craig Post author

    Ed,

    Within 12 miles of Ghana it is under the jurisdiction of the Gazan authorities. It is true that Gaza is in an anomalous position and not part of any widely recognised state, but there are authorities there which the UN and many other states regularly deal with. Plainly the lawful authority in Gazan coastal waters is not Israel – although Israel did once have limited authority there as an occupying power. That is no longer the case.

  • craig Post author

    Update,

    I have just received confirmation from Ann Wright that the US registration is indeed in order. And thatc all applicable US regulations are being complied with.

    Craig

  • mary

    Yugo or is it LfStL? You should have been at RIBA this evening to hear Richard Gage of Architects and Engineers for 9/11 giving a two hour lecture full of incontrovertible facts. They demand a proper investigation and not the 10,000 pages of nothingness that FEMA produced. http://911review.com/coverup/fema_wtc.html

    PS Guess who was in the audience? David Aaronovitch. Watch for his next piece in the Times which undoubtedly will belittle and smear.

  • YugoStiglitz

    Richard Gage is laughable; he’s always been laughable, and his “presentation” is silly. His architectural skills have never qualified him for any serious project.

    Do you believe that New World Order ninjas planted thermite in the twin towers prior to be airplanes hitting? I sure don’t!

    At the Royal Institute, was he sharing a stage with Holocaust deniers and alien invasion experts? He did so recently in Ireland.

    In any event, that the speech took place at the Royal Institute should of course not serve as any endorsement or support on the part of RIBA for his crackpot theories. I’m sure David Icke could even get a room there if he could manage to pay the bill. Richard Gage knows that gullible people will more likely believe him if he can rent rooms in such places.

    http://www.bdonline.co.uk/news/uk/riba-facing-questions-over-9/11-conspiracy-theorists-portland-place-lecture/5020177.article

  • Frazer

    Don’t get that one mate..”Within 12 miles of Ghana it is under the juristdiction of the Gaza authorities” Is there something we should know 😉

  • anno

    If I lived in Gaza in the Holy Land, I would prefer not to be rescued by political stunt artists. It would be more reassuring if the political classes of Western countries had not become the chattels of Zionist bankers and were able to put pressure on Israel without fear of plunging us into the economic status of the planet Mars.

    Before you delete, Craig, you will be pleased to hear that I have found an alternative explanation of our current problems to this old theme. In Gaza the people are Muslim, and they pray for their needs to the Creator of the Worlds, All Glory be to Him.
    NAPIT, one of the quasi-non-government-organisations set up to regulate electrical circuits in domestic properties, told me yesterday that they have to guarantee the safety of every electrical circuit that they process for x number of years regardless of the existence of the company that did the work.

    I thought the function of these organisations was to drive up knowledge and standards in the trade. No. That is no longer the aim in Big Brother Britain. We are now so obsessed with the minutiae of unbelievably irrelevant detail, generated by the computer age, that we no longer have functioning hearts and minds.

    Even more reason why not to be rescued by a US boat or a space craft from Mars. Allah is sufficient and he is with the patient. I personally do not like political stunts of any kind.

    • Jon

      Anno, I’d be inclined to think most people in Gaza would be inclined to disagree with you; they need all the help they can get. They were welcomed with open arms previously, surely?
      .
      Good activism on behalf of a stricken people should, of course, check with those people before actions are carried out on their behalf. I cite as a good (and relevant) example the BDS (Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions) movement that supports freedom for the Palestinians; of course, any boycott of Israeli goods is liable to hurt Palestinians too. However, activists have checked with Palestinians, and there was/is a feeling that it is worth the risk.
      .
      Your insistence that all the Palestinians need is their God sounds rather like abandonment to me. Perhaps you should consider that it is Allah who is sending the Flotilla?

  • ingo

    Thanks for that Mary. Yugo from St. Larry wants to steer us away from the subject of Ghaza’s territorial waters, to his job in hand, denial of Newtons physical laws that govern our existence on earth.
    What, if anything, should happen in case the pirates once again attack ships? I’m sure that the BBC will find all the right words to define this ‘outrageous threat’to their poor battered territory, once they are put into their mouth.
    We will also hear the fiddlers playing tunes of rockets fired, the ‘dome’, so much heralded as the end to all fire crackers, does not seem to work, or does it? There is no justification to attacking people on the high seas with automatic weapons helicopter gun ships, not that Israel has ever cared much about laws designed for all of us to follow.
    We have to keep an eye on those who do not condemn them, they are as guilty as the actors in this farce and need to be reminded of their superiority complex.

  • YugoStiglitz

    Ingo – you thank her for bringing that up, and then you accuse me of going off-topic? Wow! But then, quite typical for the comments section here.

    Anno – there is no Allah. Allah is a fabrication of primitive people. As is the case with the vast majority of your religious beliefs.

  • mary

    Ingo. Agree. I still enjoy this mash up of the Israeli propaganda and lies that were put out after the killings on the Mavi Marmara. Worthy of Miss Jane Corbin and her ‘Death in the Med’.
    .
    Look out for the cat playing a keyboard and another dressed up as a Kkhhaammaass terrrrist. Also the physiognomy of Mark Regev so often seen (and heard) on the British media.
    .
    PS Pointless to reply to Yugo from St Larry and in any case Craig doesn’t want a 9/11 discussion on his site.

  • ingo

    So what would happen if someone/a dedicated nation takes it upon themselves to reciproke any actions of the IDF by stopping and attacking Israeli shipping on the high seas?
    Surely such an option must have been considered before they decide to take actions against peacefull postal deliveries.
    To ratchet up the agression by re starting building in the west bank on Monday, challenging Hamas to start lobbing firecrackers at the dome, is goading and not a means of re starting peace talks. Israel is steering towards war by throwing their weight about unecessarrily. This means that can expect reciproke actions by outside factions such as Hezbollah in return, with Israel punishing Ghaza and Hamas in return.
    Expect Israeli spokespersons wriggling on the BBC, a can of worms could not compete with their expediency.

  • mary

    Seems there is no country that one can truly trust as they are all prepared to sell their country’s ‘soul’ to the Devil(s).
    .
    Haaretz: Israel and Turkey holding secret direct talks to mend diplomatic rift
    .
    […] the U.S. administration has held talks with senior Turkish officials, mainly to foil the flotilla to Gaza due later this month, but also in a bid to improve relations with Israel.
    .
    On Saturday, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton spoke to her Turkish counterpart Ahmet Davutoglu and expressed satisfaction with the IHH Humanitarian Relief Foundation’s announcement that the ship the Mavi Marmara would not take part in the flotilla this time around, officials said.
    .
    http://www.haaretz.com/print-edition/news/israel-and-turkey-holding-secret-direct-talks-to-mend-diplomatic-rift-1.368792

  • Jon

    Given that Turkey raised so many issues with the previous vessel it was forced to re-flag, I am surprised that the US permitted this new boat to be registered in its own territory. Given that it would know that it was part of a Freedom Flotilla, why did it not put a wall of safety checks that were impossible to pass?
    .
    Brave people, I wish them well.

  • mark_golding

    Larry,

    I have written to Jack Pringle, a partner in ‘Pringle Brandon’ giving him some comprehensive information he needs to make a further judgement on the collapse of the WTC buildings that may help with their new company branding.

    ‘Pringle Brandon’ are accredited to ISO 14001 and ISO 9001 therefore they are committed to computer models based on definable real world input that is peer verified. NIST refuses to release input to their structural failure/collapse analysis models. After an FOI request the SAP 2000 structure data files became available but the data refuses to fit the released blueprints. I am still waiting for WTC7 blueprints.

    Who would trust an architectural company who’s partner believes that steel framed buildings specifically designed to resist office fires collapsed in a manner that has never been documented and immediately after the collapse the evidence was destroyed/removed before thorough investigation to national quality standards.

    Some years later explosives were found in the WTC debris recovered at four verifiable locations BY SWORN WITNESSES which enforced the widely known scientific fact that extremely high temperatures existed in the towers shown by the pervasive presence of spherical iron balls in the fine concrete dust, many hollow contained sulphur deposits. These balls and the presence of molten steel, witnessed and documented by fire personnel at the scene, indicate temperatures unobtainable by office fires and jet fuel burning off.

  • angrysoba

    “You should have been at RIBA this evening to hear Richard Gage of Architects and Engineers for 9/11 giving a two hour lecture full of incontrovertible facts.”
    .
    Usually “incontrovertible facts” is Trutherspeak for “made up incoherent gibberish” such as “There were classic signs of a completely unorthodox controlled demolition of the like never seen before using substances not even known to be used for anything at all let alone controlled demolitions in which the buildings were IMPLODED and blasted steel girders LATERALLY OUTWARDS for six hundred feet…blah…blah…blah… very noisy explosions which made no sound at all.”
    .
    I hope the jars of nanothermite were passed around so that the pilgrims could kiss the relics.
    .
    By the way, Aaronovitch’s Twitter feed on this subject is here:
    http://twitter.com/#!/search?q=%23911truth
    .
    It sounds more like he went for the entertainment rather than to gather information or whatever it is you might think is sinister. I like the fact that he refused to sign the petition on the grounds that that is just what the NWO want.

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