Israel’s security cannot come at any price

Ben Saul, who teaches the law of armed conflict at The University of Sydney, writes:

Israel’s response to the Gaza flotilla is another unfortunate example of Israel clothing its conduct in the language of international law while flouting it in practice. If you believe Israeli government spokesmen, Israel is metabolically incapable of violating international law, placing it alongside Saddam Hussein’s Information Minister in self-awareness.

Israel claims that paragraph 67(a) of the San Remo Manual on Armed Conflicts at Sea justified the Israeli operation against the flotilla. (The San Remo Manual is an authoritative statement of international law applicable to armed conflicts at sea.)

Paragraph 67(a) only permits attacks on the merchant vessels of neutral countries where they “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”.

Israel argues that it gave due warnings, which were not heeded.

What Israel conveniently omits to mention is that the San Remo Manual also contains rules governing the lawfulness of the blockade itself, and there can be no authority under international law to enforce a blockade which is unlawful. Paragraph 102 of the Manual prohibits a blockade if “the damage to the civilian population is, or may be expected to be, excessive in relation to the concrete and direct military advantage anticipated from the blockade”.

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4 thoughts on “Israel’s security cannot come at any price

  1. kagiso

    You missed this bit:

    “Fifthly, if Israeli forces killed people, they may not only have infringed the human right to life, but they may also have committed serious international crimes. Under article 3 of the Rome Convention for the Suppression of Unlawful Acts against the Safety of Maritime Navigation of 1988, it is an international crime for any person to seize or exercise control over a ship by force, and also a crime to injure or kill any person in the process.

    Ironically, that treaty was adopted after Palestinian terrorists hijacked the Italian cruise ship, the Achille Lauro, in 1985, in which a Jewish American was killed.”

    Funny old world, eh.

  2. Swami

    This has gone on too long and cost too many lives.

    Hamas must end the war. No more rockets, no more bombs, no more excuses, no more “But the Israelis….” No more demands for Israel’s destruction or temporary truces. Just end it, completely, absolutely, unconditionally. No more violence, at all.

  3. Christopher Hoare

    Israel’s theft of Palestine from its original inhabitants renders everything it does illegal. Only by restoring the rights of those who have been displaced and suppressed can the Jewish population of Israel look to secure their own for an extended future.

  4. kirkaso

    All of you forgot to say that articles and conventions were and are intended for
    terorists but not for legit countries. No rights, if there are should be taken by
    force, provocation, etc.
    If you look closely at the IHH site you’ll see a movement which like an octopus
    is spreading and will affect many other countries in the world. The consequencees
    of that will appear in the next years and will affect the entire world.

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