Wednesday, November 17, 2010

The Guardian, November 16, 2010

Turkish James Bond enters dangerous waters to take on Israeli flotilla raiders

Israel and Turkey signed a military accord in 1996 which made the latter Tel Aviv's closest ally in the Muslim world. Since then, however, relations have become increasingly strained due to Turkey's public condemnation of Israeli treatment of Palestinians. In the aftermath of the raid on the flotilla, they hit an all-time low.
Turkey says ties cannot return to normal until Israel offers an apology for the attack and provides compensation for its victims (1). Israel, meanwhile, is concerned that Turkey is moving closer to Iran.
What's missing:

(1)  The Guardian provides a completely one-sided view of the Mavi Marmara incident, leaving the reader to believe that Turkey is reasonable in expecting an apology and that the "victims" are owed compensation. However:

Under international law, Israel had every right to enforce its blockade - and even to act in international waters. The San Remo Manual on International Law Applicable to Armed Conflicts at Sea, 12 June 1994. The relevant section (Section V;67) reads:
Merchant vessels flying the flag of neutral States may not be attacked unless they:

(a) are believed on reasonable grounds to be carrying contraband or breaching a blockade, and after prior warning they intentionally and clearly refuse to stop, or intentionally and clearly resist visit, search or capture;

There is no question that Hamas is involved in an armed conflict with Israel. Based on information available at the time, Israel had every reason to believe that the Mavi Marmara was carrying contraband and was attempting to breach the legal Israeli blockade. Clearly, Israel had the right to stop this ship and others in the flotilla. (Incidentally, the Mavi Marmara was the only ship whose passengers resisted the Israeli attempts to redirect them to Ashdod. The other ships in the flotilla were all peacefully docked and unloaded.)

Then there is the matter of compensation for "victims". Based on video footage, it's clear that the "activists" on the Mavi Marmara came prepared to fight, added to their preparations before a single Israeli had boarded the vessel, and then viciously attacked the soldiers. How can someone who attacked a soldier lawfully carrying out a boarding, subsequently claim compensation for any injuries suffered?

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