Former US Ambassador Edward Peck Says Flotilla Activists Were Defending Themselves
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Uploaded on Jun 2, 2010
June 2nd, 2010
Flotilla witness says activists were defending themselves in fighting Israeli soldiers
A former US ambassador who was on the flotilla that was intercepted by Israeli forces at it attempted to bring humanitarian aid to the blockaded Gaza Strip says "the people on the ship were defending" themselves when they attempted to fight off Israeli soldiers.
Edward Peck told the hosts of CNN's American Morning on Wednesday, "The purpose was humanitarian. We posed no threat to anybody...
Israel's security cannot come at any price
2 June 2010
"First, absent any intention by the flotilla to attack Israel, or any suspicion of piracy, it was unlawful for Israel to forcibly board foreign merchant vessels in international waters.
Secondly, such action amounted to an unlawful interference in the enforcement jurisdiction of the "flag-States" (countries of registration) of those vessels, such as Turkey.
Thirdly, it violated the fundamental principle of freedom of navigation on the high seas, codified in the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea of 1982.
Fourthly, under international human rights law, the apprehension and detention of those on board the vessels likely amounts to arbitrary, unlawful detention, contrary to article 9 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, since there is lawful basis for detention.
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.
In such cases, any claim of self-defence by Israeli forces is irrelevant. The treaty necessarily adopts a strict approach. One cannot attack a ship and then claim self-defence if the people on board resist the unlawful use of violence.
Legally speaking, government military forces rappelling onto a ship to illegally capture it are treated no differently than other criminals. The right of self-defence in such situations rests with the passengers on board: a person is legally entitled to resist one's own unlawful capture, abduction and detention."
Associate Professor Ben Saul is Co-Director of the Sydney Centre for International Law at The University of Sydney, a barrister, and a leading international authority on terrorism in international law. Dr Saul teaches the law of armed conflict and has been involved in such cases in The Hague, the Israeli Supreme Court, and in the Balibo coronial inquest.
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