Gaza Flotilla 311.
(photo credit: ASSOCIATED PRESS)
The state, in a sharply worded response, asked the High Court of Justice on Tuesday to reject out of hand petitions pertaining to Monday's seizure of six vessels which were on their way to break the Israeli sea blockade on the Gaza Strip and deliver humanitarian goods to the Palestinians living there.
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A panel of three judges headed by Supreme Court President Dorit Beinisch was due to hear the petitions on Wednesday at 4 p.m.
In its response to a petition filed by four lawyers, including attorney
Avigdor Feldman, the state's representatives, State Attorney Moshe
Lador, Osnat Mandel, head of the High Court Petitions Section of the
State Attorney's Office and attorneys Dina Zilber and Hila Gorni wrote,
"The petition suffers from a fundamental distortion in the description
of the events as they actually transpired in reality, to such a degree
that it is unclear what relationship there is between it and the
possibility of doing justice, as the petitioners claim to seek in their
The petitioners demanded that Israel return the hundreds of
anti-blockade activists to their boats in international waters and allow
them to sail to Gaza. They described the interception of the boats and
the fighting which broke out on board as "murder", "slaughter", and a
The state replied that based on previous judicial decisions, the court
should reject the petition because of its "vulgar and harsh language…The
petition crossed the boundaries of what is acceptable in the way they
chose to present their arguments. Not only does it not facilitate doing
justice or clarifying the matter, but rather the opposite. It undermines
this possibility, causes severe and unjustified injury to the image of
the state, presents a highly distorted picture and deals unfairly with
the respondents and the court to which it comes seeking justice."
Hostile elements took part in the flotilla
The state pointed out that "a not insignificant number of hostile
elements took part in the flotilla that were armed with clubs, knives,
iron rods, glass, etc. and they did not hesitate to use them against IDF
soldiers who tried to prevent the boat from reaching Gaza."
The aim of the passengers was to use force to open the Gaza port, which
would pave the way for "innumerable" boats carrying weapons and
terrorists to the Gaza Strip, the state argued. Furthermore, the
flotilla was organized in full coordination with the Hamas government.
In fact, Hamas planned to sail their own boats to welcome the
The organizers deliberately sought a confrontation with Israel, the
state continued. "The flotilla marketed itself publicly as motivated by
humanitarian concerns but the reality points to a different aim," the
state wrote. "The organizers did not heed Israel's efforts to prevent
the boats from reaching Gaza through diplomatic dialogue, advance
announcements, loudspeakers or radio messages. The organizers also
rejected Israel's offer to transfer the aid on board the vessels
directly through Israel. They openly declared that their aim was to
break the boycott."
The state described in detail the attacks on the soldiers as they landed
on the boat from a helicopter and argued that they had no choice but to
open fire in self-defense.
in accordance with international law
In the legal section of the petition, the state declared that Israel was
in a state of armed conflict with Gaza and therefore entitled by
international law to blockade Gaza.
It quoted Tel Aviv University law professor Yoram Dinstein as writing
that "there are several instances of contemporary (post-UN Charter of
the Law of the Seas) practices of blockades, e.g. in the Vietnam and in
the Gulf War."
It also quoted the San Remo Manual on International Law Applicable to
Armed Conflict which states, "Merchant vessels believed on reasonable
grounds to be breaching a blockade may be captured. Merchant vessels
which, after prior warning, clearly resist capture may be attacked."
The state also called on the court to reject a petition by the Israeli
Arab human rights organization Adalah, the Public Committee against
Torture in Israel and Physicians for Human Rights, demanding that Israel
notify the families of the victims who were killed and wounded and
those who were arrested, and inform them where each of their relatives
is being held in Israel. The state maintained that this petition was
premature because the authorities were still in the process of gathering
information about the whereabouts and status of each of the passengers.
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