blog_rights_and_accountability-Ismael-Mohamad-UPI.jpg

(Ismael Mohamad / United Press International)

Mavi Marmara lawyers file case against Israel for seizure of Gaza-bound Estelle

estelle_crew.jpg

An image posted on the Ship to Gaza Facebook page shows crew members and passengers aboard the Estelle.

(Ship to Gaza Sweden)

Lawyers in Turkey have filed a complaint with the Istanbul Public Prosecutor against Israeli leaders for seizing the Estelle with Nordic and Greek parliamentarians, activists and other civilians on board in international waters.

The complaint names Israeli President Shimon Peres, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Defense Minister Ehud Barak, Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman, Israeli army Chief of Staff Benny Gantz and head of the Navy Ram Rothenberg, accusing them of “arbitrary arrest, confiscating maritime or railway transportation vehicles, intentionally causing damage to property, preventing communication” and “possible crimes against humanity,” according to a press release from IHH, the Turkish humanitarian organization that sponsored the Mavi Marmara,

Israel attacked the Mavi Marmara in international waters on 31 May 2010, killing nine people aboard. Preliminary hearings in the trial of Israeli leaders in that case begin in Turkey next month.

Regarding the Estelle, the IHH press release states:

“On the 20th of October, approximately around 10:15 (CET) hours, Israeli Naval Forces boarded Estelle, took it over and routed it to Port Ashdod. At this moment the vessel was approximately 30 nautical miles from the nearest shore. According to Article 3 of the 1982 United Nations Law of the Sea Convention, the territorial waters of a State are maximum 12 nautical miles. This means Estelle was sailing in international waters. In international waters all states enjoy freedom of navigation and the flag state regime applies. No State may exercise any kind of jurisdiction over foreign vessels as long as there is no suspicion of slave trading, weapons or drug smuggling, piracy or unauthorized broadcasting. Since none of these exceptions existed, Israel had no right to stop and seize Estelle.” said in the complaint.

The complaint statement continued as follows: “Imposing a naval blockade is only possible in an International Armed Conflict which requires at least two conflicting States. Since Israel does not recognize the State of Palestine, the conditions for an International Armed Conflict are not fulfilled. Therefore there is also no legal ground to impose a naval blockade on the Gaza Strip.

The complaint alleges that, “These crimes committed by Israel are universal and fall within the scope of the universal jurisdiction of all states” and that Turkish law allows its courts to exercise jurisdiction in such cases.

Breaking the blockade

The Estelle, a sailing ship, operated by the group Ship to Gaza Sweden carried an international crew including lawmakers from several countries and several Israeli activists. The ship was forced to sail to Ashdod, were Israeli authorities arrested those on board.

The Estelle’s cargo included olive tree saplings, construction supplies, medical supplies, wheel chairs, footballs and toys.

Today, three Israeli activists who had been aboard the ship were released from custody, according to a Ship to Gaza press release:

“I am now on my way home, but I keep thinking of my shipmates, my fellow activists from abroad who are still imprisoned under harsh conditions and undergo  interrogation by the Shabak Security Service, among them Parliament Members from several countries,” said Elik Elhanan, one of the Israeli activists who had sailed aboard the Gaza-bound Swedish ship “Estelle”. Today, the court ordered his release and that of two other detained Israelis, Yonatan Shapira and Reut Mor. “At first they tried to charge us with all kinds of very serious felonies, such as ‘aiding the enemy’. The court rejected this out of hand. Today they tried a article on the law books called “Attempted infiltration into a part of the Land of Israel which is not part of the State of Israel” (sic). But the court threw out this charge, too.”

The Israeli activists said, in the press release, that the Israeli forces boarding the ship had used violence and tasers against passengers.

Separately to Swedish lawmakers, Sven Britton and Kristian Svenberg, were said to be on their way back to Sweden.

IHH press release

Mavi Marmara lawyers file a complaint against Israel for the seizure of Estelle

Istanbul, TR, 22 Oct 2012 - Mavi Marmara Lawyers filed a complaint against Israel for the seizure of Estelle at the Istanbul Office of Public Prosecutor.

Shimon Peres (President of the State of Israel),Benjamin Netanyahu (Prime Minister of Israel), Ehud Barak (Minister of Defense and Deputy Prime Minister), Avigdor Lieberman (Israeli Minister of Foreign Affairs and Deputy Prime Minister of Israel), Benny Gantz(Chief of General Staff of the Israel Defense Forces),Ram Rothberg (Head of the Israel Navy) and others who directly involved in the operation and commanders have been accused in the complaint for arbitrary arrest,confiscating maritime or railway transportation vehicles, intentionally causing damage to property, preventing communication, possible crimes against humanity.

“On the 20th of October, approximately around 10:15 (CET) hours, Israeli Naval Forces boarded Estelle, took it over and routed it to Port Ashdod. At this moment the vessel was approximately 30 nautical miles from the nearest shore. According to Article 3 of the 1982 United Nations Law of the Sea Convention, the territorial waters of a State are maximum 12 nautical miles. This means Estelle was sailing in international waters. In international waters all states enjoy freedom of navigation and the flag state regime applies. No State may exercise any kind of jurisdiction over foreign vessels as long as there is no suspicion of slave trading, weapons or drug smuggling, piracy or unauthorized broadcasting. Since none of these exceptions existed, Israel had no right to stop and seize Estelle.” said in the complaint.

The complaint statement continued as follows: “Imposing a naval blockade is only possible in an International Armed Conflict which requires at least two conflicting States. Since Israel does not recognize the State of Palestine, the conditions for an International Armed Conflict are not fulfilled. Therefore there is also no legal ground to impose a naval blockade on the Gaza Strip.

The rules of International Humanitarian Law require the free passage of humanitarian aid to territories under occupation. By denying the passage of the humanitarian aid on Estelle the accused parties have clearly violated this rule and also the rules of Human Rights Law, which are applicable during peace time and continue to apply also during war time. The accused parties should be held responsible for these violations.

The State of Israel (the president, prime-minister and others in charge) has accepted the act as its own and that they have given the order. These crimes committed by Israel are universal and fall within the scope of the universal jurisdiction of all states. Being a State of Law, it is not acceptable for the Republic of Turkey to not take action.

The Turkish Penal Code provides Universal Jurisdiction in the articles 12 and 13. This provides the Turkish Judicial Authorities all necessary jurisdiction and responsibility.For these reasons a criminal investigation should be started for the Head of State, superiors who prepared and commanded the operation and all subordinates being part of the operation and a criminal case should be filed.”

Human Rights activists and humanitarian aid volunteers from all around the world sailed with the boat Estelle on the 20th of June 2012 from Sweden. Their aim was to break the illegal blockade imposed by Israel on the Gaza Strip and to bring humanitarian aid to the people of Gaza, including medical aid. Among the passengers of Estelle were six European Parliamentarians; former Canadian parliamentarian Manly James, Norwegian parliamentarian Hagen Akse, Swedish Parliamentarian Britton Sven, Greek parliamentarians Kodelas Dimitros and Diamantopoulos Evangelos and Spanish parliamentarian Sixto Ricardo.

About IHH

The official establishment and institutional structure of theIHH Humanitarian Relief Foundation, whose preliminary foundation was laid by a group of charitable people to extend humanitarian aid to Bosnia in 1992 during the war years, was completed in 1995. The IHH aims to reach every region hit by wars, disasters,poverty and human rights abuses, and believes that civilian initiatives play a complementary role beside intervention by states and international organizations in resolving humanitarian problems. IHH is also one of the organizers of Gaza Freedom Flotilla in 2010.

Comments

if this was done by any muslim country or even a so -called third world african country they should have been wiped off the map

Thank you for this information. There is nothing in our French Swiss press on the whole incident. I have just published an account on my blog (http://carol.blog.tdg.ch). It will be extremely interesting to watch the legal developments.

Israeli leaders should be held accountable for committed crimes in International Criminal Court. International Law is broken by Israelis over and over again. It is time to end the "free pass" for Israelis. There is no excuses for murdering, kidnapping, stealing and piracy on international waters.

The Canadian, a retired United Church minister and former Member of Parliament, is named James Manly, not Manly James!

at last a country that is doing the right thing...standing up to Israeli bullying and illegal actions. It is noticeable that no UK Parlimentarian was on board which is a great shame as the UK were instigators in the founding of Israel and the diaspora due to Balfour and his bright ideas.

If a group of impoverished Somalis had done this, they would have been arrested for piracy and prosecuted to the fullest extent of international law. When Israel does the same thing with its massive navy, all the powers that be look the other way. The hypocrasy is astounding.