Lawyers, not IDF, at forefront of battle against flotilla

Shurat HaDin aims to prevent blockade breach by bringing lawsuits in the US against companies offering services to participating ships.

flotilla 311 (photo credit: Creative Commons)
flotilla 311
(photo credit: Creative Commons)
In an effort to prevent the upcoming flotilla into Gaza, the Shurat HaDin Law Center has threatened lawsuits against companies offering services to the participating ships.
In letters to maritime insurance firms and satellite communications companies, Shurat HaDin, an independent non-profit organization, has warned that any companies that provide services that assist in the breach of the Israeli blockade on Gaza will be sued in the United States for aiding the Hamas terrorist organization.
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“There is no need for Israeli soldiers to repel down ropes in order to stop the next flotilla – all that’s needed is some courage and original thinking,” said Shurat HaDin’s Director Nitsana Darshan-Leitner.
Darshan-Leitner told The Jerusalem Post that Shurat HaDin had recently approached mobile satellite services company Inmarsat – the only company that provides communications and navigations services to ships that sail in the region – requesting that they refuse to provide their services to ships participating in the flotilla.
“We informed them that if they do so, they will be in violation of the American Neutrality Act, which prohibits aiding a group in their struggle against the military of an ally country,” said Darshan-Leitner. “Since Imarsat has offices in the US, the law binds them.”
The group has also sent letters to 30 of the top maritime insurance companies in the world announcing their intent to sue if they provide insurance to ships participating in the flotilla.
“Every boat that travels from any country’s seaports or marinas needs to have maritime insurance,” explained Darshan-Leitner. “Without insurance, a ship is not permitted to set sail. Yet, the maritime insurance companies insuring the boats utilized by the Gaza Flotilla surely have no idea that the passenger boats that they are indemnifying are being used by the organizers to run the coastal blockade, violently challenge the IDF and smuggle weapons into Gaza. No legitimate insurance company nor its shareholders would reasonably agree to insure an expedition like that.
“As such, we have begun to send letters placing the maritime insurance companies on notice concerning the Gaza Flotilla, and warning them that if they provide insurance (a necessary component in the effort to smuggle contraband to the terrorists) that they themselves will be legally liable for any future terrorist attacks perpetrated by Hamas,” she continued.
Darshan-Leitner said that the group had considered the possibility that the insurance companies would agree to insure the ships up to the moment they enter Israel’s territorial waters, and then be able to say that they entered them without their knowledge and permission, but argued that such a position would likely not hold up in court.
According to Shurat HaDin, The Israeli government and military are extremely adept at adopting to new military threats and battlefield surprises, but are less adept at facing challenges to Israel’s legitimacy.
“We have no criticism about the IDF, we simply think that the war on the flotilla should not be left for the Special Forces to fight alone. There are various ways to prevent, postpone, limit and avert the danger – and force isn’t always the best way,” said Darshan- Leitner.
She said that as far as she knew, the Israeli government had not taken similar steps down corporate and legal paths.
The group has already received assurances from the world’s largest maritime insurance company, Lloyd’s, that they would not insure ships participating in the flotilla, as well as an agreement from the International Union of Marine Insurance that they would send their requests to all their members.
“As you correctly point out in your letter, Hamas is subject to UK and EU terrorist-financing sanctions. As such, any vessel identified as being owned or controlled by that organization would not be permitted to be insured by underwriters at Lloyd’s, or any other EU insurer. The Lloyd’s Market has robust systems in place to ensure international sanctions are followed, and therefore any underwriter identifying an insured or prospective insured acting on behalf of, or for the benefit of Hamas, would not insure such a risk,” wrote Lloyd’s Senior Manager of International Regulatory Affairs, Andy Wragg in response to Shurat HaDin’s letter.