Gaza Flotilla International Law

THE HELSINKI PRINCIPLES ON THE LAW OF MARITIME NEUTRALITY…….

Two years ago this twit snubbed the Israelis,
failing to turn up to celebrate their 60th anniversary
Too bad the dufus Finnish Prime Minister, Matti Vanhanen, and his Foreign Minister, Alexander Stubb, never took the time to read these maritime principle named after their capital city. Or did they, and just chose to smear the Jews one more time? KGS

NOTE: Don’t forget to to read this on as well:
“Israel obeyed international law: Legally, the Gaza flotilla conflict is an open-and-shut case”

“The legality of blockades as a response to acts of war is not subject to serious doubt. When the United States blockaded Cuba during the missile crisis, the State Department issued an opinion declaring the blockade to be lawful. This despite the fact that Cuba had not engaged in any act of belligerence against the United States. Other nations have similarly enforced naval blockades to assure their own security.

The second issue is whether it is lawful to enforce a legal blockade in international waters. Again, law and practice are clear. If there is no doubt that the offending ships have made a firm determination to break the blockade, then the blockade may be enforced before the offending ships cross the line into domestic waters. Again the United States and other Western countries have frequently boarded ships at high sea in order to assure their security. “

Helsinki Principles: Israel Was in the Right

A perusal of The Helsinki Principles on the Law of Maritime Neutrality, a basis for international law on the subject, shows that Israel was well within its prescriptions in forcibly stopping the Gaza-bound flotilla.  The relevant clauses in the Helsinki Principles read as follows:
5.1.1 Neutral ships in belligerent ports
A neutral ship in a belligerent port enjoys the same protection against attacks as civilian objects in land warfare… Neutral warships in belligerent ports retain their right of self-defense.
5.1.2 Protection against attacks
(3) Merchant ships flying the flag of a neutral State may be attacked if 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, capture or diversion.
(4) Merchant ships flying the flag of a neutral State may be attacked if they
(a) engage in belligerent acts on behalf of the enemy;
(b) act as auxiliaries to the enemy’s armed forces;
(c) are incorporated into or assist the enemy’s intelligence system;
(d) sail under convoy of enemy warships or military aircraft; or
(e) otherwise make an effective contribution to the enemy’s military action, e.g., by carrying military materials, and it is not feasible for the attacking forces to first place passengers and crew in a place of safety. Unless circumstances do not permit, they are to be given a warning, so that they can re-route, off-load, or take other precautions.
5.2.1 Visit and search
… [B]elligerent warships have a right to visit and search vis-à-vis neutral commercial ships in order to ascertain the character and destination of their cargo. If a ship tries to evade this control or offers resistance, measures of coercion necessary to exercise this right are permissible. This includes the right to divert a ship where visit and search at the place where the ship is encountered are not practical.
5.2.10 Blockade
Blockade, i.e. the interdiction of all or certain maritime traffic coming from or going to a port or coast of a belligerent, is a legitimate method of naval warfare. In order to be valid, the blockade must be declared, notified to belligerent and neutral States, effective and applied impartially to ships of all States. A blockade may not bar access to neutral ports or coasts. Neutral vessels believed on reasonable and probable grounds to be breaching a blockade may be stopped and captured. If they, after prior warning, clearly resist capture, they may be attacked. (IsraelNationalNews.com)

2 Responses

  1. 1.1. Definition
    For the purposes of the following Principles, ‘neutral State’ means any State which is not party to an
    international armed conflict; ‘belligerent’ means a State which is a party to that conflict; ‘neutral waters’
    comprise the internal waters of a neutral State, its territorial sea, and, where applicable, its archipelagic
    waters within the meaning of Articles 9 and 50 of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea of
    1982 (hereinafter: UNCLOS); prima facie ‘neutral ships’ are ships flying the flag of a neutral State.
    1.2 The Effect of the Charter of the United Nations
    Nothing in the present Principles shall be construed as implying any limitation upon the powers of the
    Security Council under Chapters VII and VIII of the United Nations Charter. In particular, no State may rely
    upon the Principles stated herein in order to evade obligations laid upon it in pursuance of a binding
    decision of the Security Council. Nor shall the present principles be construed as denying the inherent right
    of individual or collective self-defence recognized in Article 51 of the Charter.

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