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Israel's Attack on the Gaza Flotilla, Western Media Propaganda, & the UN's Convention on the High SeasTim King Salem-News.com
It seems clear that Israel violated International Law.
(SALEM, Ore.) - One of the most important things to consider with regard to Israel's attack on the Gaza Aid Flotilla, is International Law itself. As Israelis commemorate the deaths of the ten peace activists with street celebrations. A quick review of a UN Treaty, enforced by the International Maritime Organization, shows Israel in violation once again, on several counts.
On a national and local level, U.S. mainstream media is hard at work broadcasting false information about the affair, and that is not biased on my part, simply true.
Portland television station KGW began and ended their news drop about it in total unwavering support of Israel. It is interesting, as Palestinians claim there is a strong Jewish/Israeli bias in American mainstream news; that the most evil and horrific war crimes committed by Israel are easily accepted and or dismissed by supporters of Israel's military- long under suspicion for several war crimes tied to the attack on civilian targets in Gaza during the winter of 2008/09. The level of bias, and the lack of factual research, or fair presentation, is clearly present at the local level also, based on KGW Channel 8 News.
The station, like most, did not mention the American art student from Manhattan shot at point blank range in the face by an Israeli soldier today for taking part in a peace demonstration. Their staffs clearly dismiss news that reflects poorly on Israel.
There are regulations established to define how military intervention at sea happens. The document that sets those international laws is the United Nations Treaty: Convention on the High Seas 1958.
According to a review of this document, there is no legal justification for yesterday's unilateral military assault on the Flotilla Vessel Mavi Marmara, one of six ships comprising the Gaza Freedom Flotilla.
Overtaking a vessel underway against its will certainly equates to the description of "hot pursuit" at sea. Those aboard the vessel say Israel fired at them with live rounds before boarding.
Article 23 in the High Seas Convention states that the "hot pursuit of a foreign ship" is permissible when local authorities have good reason to believe that the ship has violated the laws and regulations of that State, which in this case is Israel.
"Such pursuit must be commenced when the foreign ship or one of its boats is within the internal waters or the territorial sea or the contiguous zone of the pursuing State."
The Flotilla by every account, was in international waters. This being the case, Israel or any other nation had a right to board it, if they believed it was involved in either piracy or the slave trade.
However, there was no suspicion or allegation of either of those things. The vessels contained vast amounts of relief supplies, ranging from thousands of pounds of concrete, to toys, food, medical supplies and wheelchairs.
This is Article 22 as stated:
1. Except where acts of interference derive from powers conferred by treaty, a warship which encounters a foreign merchant ship on the high seas is not justified in boarding her unless there is reasonable ground for suspecting: (a) That the ship is engaged in piracy; or (b) That the ship is engaged in the slave trade; or (c) That though flying a foreign flag or refusing to show its flag, the ship is, in reality, of the same nationality as the warship. 2. In the cases provided for in subparagraphs (a), (b) and (c) above, the warship may proceed to verify the ship’s right to fly its flag. To this end, it may send a boat under the command of an officer to the suspected ship.
If suspicion remains after the documents have been checked, it may proceed to a further examination on board the ship, which must be carried out with all possible consideration. 3. If the suspicions prove to be unfounded, and provided that the ship boarded has not committed any act justifying them, it shall be compensated for any loss or damage that may have been sustained.
According to Article 22, a warship, "may send a boat under the command of an officer to the suspected ship." It does not state that an aircraft can be used for this purpose. If the word "vessel" had been used, a debate could possibly be raised, as the U.S. has considered the Space Shuttle a vessel. The language in this case seems clear.
There is also a change taking place among sea captains about crews defending their vessels against piracy, and the idea of having their vessels "boarded".
Another interesting connection to the case is found under Article 11, where it is stated that: "No arrest or detention of the ship, even as a measure of investigation, shall be ordered by any authorities other than those of the flag State".
Israel has been accused of piracy by different journalists and activists; this however does not appear to be the case under the Convention on the High Seas 1958
It states that piracy consists of any of the following acts: (1) Any illegal acts of violence, detention or any act of depredation, committed for private ends by the crew or the passengers of a private ship or a private aircraft."
Israel is a government, not a private agency. Other than that, boarding a vessel on the high seas for the purposes of injuring its passengers and ultimately seizing control of it, would certainly resemble piracy.
Salem-News.com coverage of the Flotilla Massacre so far:
Tim holds numerous awards for reporting, photography, writing and editing, including the Oregon AP Award for Spot News Photographer of the Year (2004), first place Electronic Media Award in Spot News, Las Vegas, (1998), Oregon AP Cooperation Award (1991); and several others including the 2005 Red Cross Good Neighborhood Award for reporting. Serving the community in very real terms, Salem-News.com is the nation's only truly independent high traffic news Website. You can send Tim an email at this address: firstname.lastname@example.org
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