Spanish flotilla activists sue Israel

Israeli ambassador to UN urges int'l community to stop new flotilla.

By AP, ,
July 23, 2010 10:15
3 minute read.
Palestinian flags wave in Gaza port, foreground, a

Gaza Flotilla 311. (photo credit: ASSOCIATED PRESS)


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Three Spanish passengers of the the May 31 Gaza-bound flotilla will file a civil claim against Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, six government ministers, and the commander of the navy, Spanish newspaper El Pais reported Friday.

The lawsuit comes as Israeli Ambassador to the UN Gabriela Shalev urged the international community to stop a second flotilla of two Lebanese ships, which plans to set sail for Gaza on Friday or Saturday.

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The claimants in the suit are two Spanish peace activists and a journalist. They will file suit against Netanyahu, Defense Minister Ehud Barak, Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman, Interior Minister Eli Yishai and Ministers Moshe Yaalon, Dan Meridor and Benny Begin, as well as Navy Commander Eliezer Marom.

According to the Republico newspaper, the three claim they were subjected to light torture, were arrested in an illegal manner, and were expelled by force from Israel by Israeli authorities after the events on-board the Mavi Marmara.

The 83-page suit claims that the Israeli government committed crimes against humanity.

'Inciting confrontation'

Israel's UN Ambassador Gabriela Shalev urged Lebanon and the international community to prevent two Lebanese ships, Junia and Julia, from attempting to break the naval blockade of Gaza, warning that the vessels would be stopped.

"Israel reserves its right under international law to use all necessary means to prevent these ships from violating the...naval blockade," Shalev wrote in letters to UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and the Security Council which were obtained Thursday by the Associated Press.

Shalev accused organizers of the aid ships of "inciting confrontation and raising tensions in our region" and called on Lebanon's government "to demonstrate responsibility" and prevent the two ships from departing.

Israel and Lebanon remain "in a state of hostility" and "such action will prevent any escalation," the envoy said in the letters.

"Israel further calls upon the international community to exercise its influence in order to prevent these boats from departing and to discourage their nationals from taking part in such action," she said.

Shalev said it cannot be ruled out that the Junia and Julia are carrying weapons "or individuals with provocative and confrontational intentions" but highlighted "that all goods that are not weapons or material for war-like purposes are now entering the Gaza Strip through appropriate mechanisms that ensure their delivery as well as their civilian nature."

The ambassador explained that the organizers of the Junia and Julia are aware of these channels to deliver aid to Gaza but "similar to previous attempts by others" are seeking confrontation.

The Israel Navy went on high alert Thursday amid forecasts that the two Lebanese vessels were preparing to depart from Tripoli on either Friday or Saturday.

Defense officials said that the navy had deployed ships at sea to stop the ships and that commandos from the navy’s Flotilla 13 – known as the Shayetet – were put on standby in case they would be needed to board the vessels to prevent them from sailing into the Gaza Strip. The organizer of the ships is Syrian national Yasser Kashlak.

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