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Facts vs Falsehoods: Gaza "freedom" Flotilla running Israeli blockade is illegal by international law, NOT piracy

Updated on May 7, 2012
AP -- image of the "freedom flotilla" at night
AP -- image of the "freedom flotilla" at night


Memorial Day 2010 will forever go down in history as a day of controversy, as Israelis enforced their blockade of Gaza against the so-called freedom flotilla, intended to run the blockade. The process was peaceful until one of the ships decided to resist the inspection with clubs and knives. The end result is multiple flotilla members killed, dozens more injured, and many Israeli soldiers injured, some seriously.

It is not the author's intent to assign blame in this situation. The scene was far too chaotic for that. However, the author wishes to address some outright FALSEHOOD released by the "freedom flotilla"'s patron, the Free Gaza organization, claiming something that is simply not true.

The Activists Say...

The "Free Gaza" activists claimed what the Israelis did was high-sea piracy, boarding flagged ships in International waters.

"The attack has happened in international waters, 75 miles off the coast of Israel, in direct violation of international law."

Furthermore, the organization also promised to resist non-violently.

“The message from Israel is clear: ‘We will stop you. And no-one can prevent us from stopping you.’ said Free Gaza chair, Huwaida Arraf.

“However, we will non-violently resist Israeli attempts to seize our boats. Thousands of people have contributed to making this flotilla a reality, and the people of Gaza are expecting us.

Photo of "activists" resisting Israeli commandos with clubs and possibly knives
Photo of "activists" resisting Israeli commandos with clubs and possibly knives

Reality says otherwise...

Unfortunately, international martime law does NOT support the charges of "piracy".

San Remo Manual on International Law Applicable to Armed Conflicts at Sea, 12 June 1994

67. 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;

The activists knew they are running an internationally declared blockade on a recognized terrorist organization, namely Hamas. They specifically stated so in the press release quoted earlier. They clearly resisted visit, search, or capture. Thus, they may be attacked, as per international law.

It is also interesting that the organization also failed to "resist non-violently", unless they actually interpret "beating and stabbing" as "resisting non-violently".


It is clear that Free Gaza's propaganda machine is running at full speed, by ignoring laws and facts, and instead spinning partial facts and outright falsehoods to their "cause".

I am a skeptic and a cynic. I believe Free Gaza may have a legitimate cause, but it is NOT engaging in ethical behavior by portraying the incidents as solely the fault of the israelis.

As this is not meant to be a political rant, I think I'll stop right here.


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    • kschang profile image

      kschang 7 years ago from San Francisco, CA, USA

      @Batfink -- that's why someone have to call out their lies, but again, I am not trying to get into a political debate, as that is simply a topic too big for even a series of hubs.

      @sheila -- to be honest, the blockade rules are a bit weird, but again, another story.

    • sheila b. profile image

      sheila b. 7 years ago

      This wasn't the first time such aid was shipped to Gaza, it's just the first time a flotilla refused to abide by the rules Israel set up - simply to examine what they are bringing in because weapons are being smuggled into Gaza.

    • batfink68 profile image

      batfink68 7 years ago

      Great article but alas, the hate-speech generation doesn't respect law.

      One interesting point that needs to be expounded upon is that the U.S. considers the Palestinian Territories as a nation among nations.

      Now many hate speech advocates have been saying that 'Israel's blockade is illegal' because of the conflicted status of The Gaza Strip.

      This is erroneous as it doesn't matter what internal civil conflicts are going in within a nation for another nation to blockade. Right now there are 2 Palestinian governments (one in power in one territory and one in power in the other) claiming they alone are the legit gov't that has the right to speak for the Palestinian state.

      It doesn't matter that the Palestinian territories have a civil conflict going on where 2 different govt's claim they alone are the legit gov etc, the law is that Israel has the right to blockade the state of Palestine regardless of (internal) civil conflicts going on.