Israel’s War Against Palestine: Documenting the Military Occupation of Palestinian and Arab Lands

UK Lawyers: In law Israel has a case to answer

3 June 2010

By UK lawyers and activists, The Times – 3 June 2010

An embargo on adequate food and medical aid can never be lawful, so those on board had the right to defend themselves

Sir, The attack by Israeli forces on the Turkish-registered vessel Mavi
Marmara in international waters was clearly unlawful.

By virtue of the decision by the Permanent Court of International Justice
in the Lotus case (1927), the basic principle under customary
international law, is that “…vessels on the high seas are subject to no
authority except that of the State whose flag they fly”; in this case,
Turkey. Indeed, a 1988 treaty, to which Israel is a party, criminalises
the unlawful and intentional seizure or exercise of control over a ship by
force and all connected injuries, deaths and/or detentions.

Israel claims that it was lawfully enforcing a legal blockade. Even if the
blockade is legal, in order to rely on this legal justification, Israel is
required to liaise with the flag state, Turkey, before trying to board the
vessel. It did not.

In any event, this blockade is not lawful. An embargo on adequate food and
medical aid can never be lawful. As the boarding of the Mavi Marmara by
Israeli forces was unlawful, those on board had the right to defend
themselves, subject to the constraints of Turkish criminal law. Any force
used by Israeli commandos may be judged as unlawful, let alone the use of
lethal force.

Turkey must now be assisted by all UN member states to gain access to all
of the evidence relating to this incident so that it may conduct a
comprehensive criminal investigation, at the conclusion of which the
Israeli personnel involved may need to defend their actions before a
criminal court. UN sanctions should be imposed against Israel if it
refuses to co-operate with such an investigation. Finally, the unlawful
blockade of Gaza must now end.

Daniel Machover
Chair of Lawyers for Palestinian Human Rights
Roy Amlot, QC

Signatories to the Times letter

1. Daniel Machover, Chair of Lawyers for Palestinian Human Rights
2. Louise Christian, Christian Khan Solicitors
3. Phil Shiner, Public Interest Lawyers
4. Roy Amlot QC
5. Kate Maynard, Hickman & Rose Solicitors
6. Raj Chada, Hodge Jones Allen
7. Sam McIntosh, Solicitor, University of Reading
8. Dr Mandy Turner, Department of Peace Studies, University of Bradford
9. Mary Nazzal-Batayneh, Barrister, Chair of Human Rights Legal Aid Fund
10. Haroon Shah, Christian Khan Solicitors
11. Jim Nichol, Solicitor
12. Amer Ahmad, Solicitor
13. Katherine Craig, Solicitor
14. Lisa Davis, Solicitor
15. Margaret Gordon, Solicitor
16. Sarah McSherry, Solicitor
17. Rachael Wellby, Solicitor
18. Anna Mazzola, Solicitor
19. Sophie Naftalin
20. Niall Sookoo
21. Salma Karmi-Ayyoub
22. Dan Carey, Public Interest Lawyers
23. Tessa Gregory, Public Interest lawyers
24. Jim Duffy, Public Interest lawyers
25. Sam Jacobs, Public Interest Lawyers
26. Andrew Post, Barrister
27. Andrew Sanger
28. Blinne Ni Ghralaigh, barrister
29. Smita Shah, Garden Court Chambers
30. Hattie Miall
31. Rachel Bowles
32. Liz Davies barrister and Chair Haldane Society of Socialist Lawyers.
33. Livio Zilli Garden Court Chambers
34. Peter Rowlands barrister
35. Mark George Q.C.
36. Rachael Rowley-fox barrister
37. Keir Monteith barrister
38. Shiraz Aziz barrister
39. Hossein Zahir barrister
40. Nerida Harford-Bell barrister
41. Stephen Marsh barrister
42. John Beckley, Barrister
43. Kirsten Heaven, Garden Court Chambers
44. Jonathan Wilkinson barrister
45. Chris McWatters barrister
46. Richard J. Harvey Garden Court Chambers
47. Lionel Blackman Chair SIHRG Solicitors’ International Human Rights Group
Maya Sikand Garden Court Chambers
48. Martin Huseyin Tooks chambers
49. Pete Weatherby Garden Court North
50. Allison Bailey Garden Court Chambers
51. Stephen Cavalier CEO Thompsons
52. Karen Mitchell Partner Thompsons
53. David Thompson Partner Thompsons.
54. Henry Blaxland Q.C.
55. Anna Morris Garden Court Chambers
56. Anya Lewis Garden Court Chambers
57. Helen Foot barrister
58. Omar Shibli Garden Court Chambers
59. Sean Horstead Garden Court Chambers
60. Jo Wilding Garden Court Chambers
61. James Scobie Garden Court Chambers
62. Rajiv Menon Garden Court Chambers
63. Sharon L Garden Court Chambers
64. Bansi Soni Garden Court Chambers
65. Maya Naidoo Garden Court Chambers
66. Kate Aubrey-Johnson, barrister, Garden Court Chambers
67. Birinder Kang Garden Court Chambers
68. Sarah Hemingway Garden Court Chambers
69. Sarah Hibbin SOAS

The complete IOA coverage of the Gaza Flotilla

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