A US citizen who filed a lawsuit asking the US authorities to seize the Mavi Marmara and 13 other Gaza flotilla ships has called on US Attorney-General Eric Holder to support the suit, The Jerusalem Post learned on Sunday.
Dr. Alan J. Bauer, an American citizen living in Jerusalem, filed the suit last June in the US federal court in New York with the help of Shurat HaDin (The Israel Law Center).
The precedent-setting lawsuit, which has since been transferred to the District of Columbia District Court, asks the US authorities to seize the flotilla vessels on the grounds that groups and individuals – including the Free Gaza and US to Gaza campaigns – violated US law by raising funds in the US to furnish and fit out the ships, whose intent was to commit hostilities against US ally Israel.
The flotilla ship Mavi Marmara, owned by the Hamaslinked Turkish Islamic group IHH, sailed from its dock in Antalya, Turkey, on May 26, 2010, in order to meet up with several other ships in international waters off the coast of Cyprus. Several days later, on May 30, 2010, the Gaza Freedom Flotilla vessels set sail from those international waters to Gaza. The IDF raided the flotilla a day later, on May 31, 2010.
Significantly, in the lawsuit, Bauer argues that he is acting as an “informer” to the US authorities under section 962 of the US Code of Laws, an old and rarely-used piece of legislation that allows a plaintiff to seize vessels outfitted in the US for use against an American ally state. The legislation entitles the informer to 50 percent of the proceeds of the forfeited ships.
Last week, US District Court Judge Rudolph Contreras asked the US Department of Justice to file a statement of interest by June 29, regarding whether Bauer as a private citizen has the legal standing to bring the lawsuit.
According to Bauer, Contreras’s question raises the issue of who is capable of bringing such a suit under US law, specifically whether Bauer is able to do so as a private citizen or whether the US government itself would need to act as the plaintiff – which it would likely decline to do.
In his letter to Holder, Bauer asks the US attorney-general to file to the court a statement of interest in support of the lawsuit.
This, he said, would “send a powerful message that US citizens and organizations will face consequences for acting against US law even for humanitarian purposes.”
“Terror victims have looked to the US government for support in our efforts to hold terrorists and their enablers accountable for their actions. Those involved in last year’s flotilla openly sided with Hamas and other terror organizations that reject Israel’s right to exist,” Bauer wrote in the letter to Holder.
Bauer added that the flotilla participants may not have planned to bring weapons to Gaza, but they did intend to end Israel’s naval blockade of the Hamas-controlled strip, which would have allowed Iran and Syria to supply the terror group with military equipment.
In a separate initiative, Bauer has also spearheaded calls for the US authorities to prosecute Palestinian terrorists who maimed or killed Americans, and who were released as part of Israel’s deal with Hamas to return kidnapped IDF soldier Gilad Schalit.