Israeli civil rights organisation director Nitsana Darshan-Leitner has written a good primer in the Jerusalem Post on why the blockade of Gaza is legal and how flotilla activists are likely breaking US law.
A recent guest of AIJAC in Australia (watch one of her lectures on the AIJAC website), Darshan-Leitner pursues terrorist organisations by launching civil suits on behalf of victims of terrorism, thereby bankrupting or making it harder for Hamas and similar outfits to fundraise in particular jurisdictions.
Darshan-Leitner’s legal tactics assisted in assuring the failure of the 2011 Gaza flotilla after her organisation, Shurat HaDin, warned insurance and marine service companies they might be classed as aiding and abetting terrorism if they assisted flotilla ships.
Here are some important points Darshan-Leitner makes in the JPost that anyone who opposes the blockade of Gaza and support the flotillas should know.
Why the Gaza maritime blockade is legal:
Pursuant to the Oslo Accords … the Palestinians agreed that the Gaza coastline would be placed under Israeli control and that no foreign ships would be allowed closer than 12 nautical miles from the shore.
Israel demanded this out of concern over widespread import of conventional and unconventional weapons into Gaza. Had it not been for this provision, there would be no Palestinian Authority today…
…violating it constitutes a hostile action against the State of Israel. As such, Israel is permitted to utilize all necessary force to repel any seafaring intruders.
The UN’s soon-to-be-released Palmer Report, which investigated last year’s flotilla, will confirm that this is true.
Why Gaza flotillas violate US laws and Israeli rights:
Ironically, those organizing and outfitting the ships, who claim that Israel is in violation of international law and Palestinian rights, have themselves run roughshod over numerous provisions of the federal penal code as they attempt to deliver material support and resources to the Hamas government, which is responsible for thousands of missile attacks on Israeli cities.
The Neutrality Act, legislated in 1789, prohibits American citizens from organizing or donating funds or participating in any military or naval expedition against an allied foreign nation…. Related sections of the federal criminal code outlaw the furnishing of a sea vessel with the intent that it be employed to commit hostilities against a people with which the United States is at peace. The organizers of the Gaza flotilla have ignored these laws, as they openly raised funds via websites and public appeals.
Delivering goods and other cargo by ship to the Hamas government in Gaza, without the supervision of the Israeli army, would also constitute a violation of the American federal code. The Anti Terrorism Act of 2002 prohibits the provision of any material support or resources to a designated terrorist organization.
A recent US Supreme Court decision ruled that material support could be something as benign as legal advice and would certainly include weapons, funds or bunker-building supplies. If anyone were killed, as nine were last year, the organizers could be charged with murder.
These laws were enacted to ensure that US citizens would not engage in hostile campaigns against American allies lest the US be dragged deeper into foreign conflicts.
Moreover, they serve to ensure that terrorist organizations are not funded or supplied by American citizens or residents.
When these laws go unenforced because of some romanticized notion that the lawbreakers are modern-day Gandhis, Kings and Mandelas, they imperil not just innocent Israelis who bear the brunt of the murderous Hamas attacks, but the safety of all peoples in the region.