Gaza Raid Triggers International Outcry and Question of International Law

International outcry over the commando raid on a flotilla bringing food and medicine to Gaza continues to grow. Israel insists that its soldiers were merely defending themselves in the shootings that left 9 people dead. Human rights activists insist that the troops opened fire on civilians onboard the ships. Whatever the final facts, the tragedy has brought even greater scrutiny of the long-condemned blockade in Gaza that has led to a humanitarian crisis.

It appears that all nine fatalities were Turkish citizens and Turkey has withdrawn its ambassador to Israel. Turkey’s Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu called the raid “banditry and piracy” on the high seas and “murder conducted by a state.”

Seven Israeli soldiers were also wounded, one seriously.

Israel has been criticized for years over the blockage, which has barred medical and other supplies from countries from France to Turkey to England. Israel imposed the blockade in response to Hamas winning elections in Gaza. Maj. Gen. Eitan Dangot, the Israeli military’s chief liaison with the Palestinian-controlled territories, said “We will not allow ships to come to Gaza while Hamas is in control there.”

While various organizations and countries have denounced the blockade as causing great hardship, Israel recently taunted critics by releasing a video of the Roots restaurant — one of the finest restaurants left in Gaza to show that fancy meals are still be served. The IDF noted “we have been told the Beef Stroganoff and cream of spinach soup are highly recommended.”

That move backfired as humanitarian groups alleged that the pictures were dated and the food was smuggled through tunnels for a small percent of wealthy Gazans. Eighty percent of Gazans are being supported by international relief supplies and the United Nations has said that the blockade is causing a health crisis in Gaza.

The blockade itself raises serious legal questions, particularly as a form of collective punishment against Gazans for their election of Hamas party members. Under international law, Israel cannot deny basic supplies to the population. There is also the question of the right of Israel to board the vessels in international waters. Furthermore, there are strict guidelines on the response by military and police in law enforcement situations. The San Remo Manual on International Law Applicable to Armed Conflicts at Sea, 12 June 1994, is viewed as customary international law and limits such claimed acts of self-defense to proportional acts:

3. The exercise of the right of individual or collective self-defence recognized in Article 51 of the Charter of the United Nations is subject to the conditions and limitations laid down in the Charter, and arising from general international law, including in particular the principles of necessity and proportionality.

4. The principles of necessity and proportionality apply equally to armed conflict at sea and require that the conduct of hostilities by a State should not exceed the degree and kind of force, not otherwise prohibited by the law of armed conflict, required to repel an armed attack against it and to restore its security.

Arguments that these searches were acts of self-defense are undermined by Israeli officials tying the blockade to the Hamas election as opposed to gun running. There is no question that Hamas is a legitimate concern for Israel and that Israel has a legitimate interest in ending the attacks on its borders. However, international law requires proportionality and protects foreign flagged vessels in international waters. To the extent that these searches are viewed as collective punishment, they would be viewed widely as an international violation.

While Israel has said that the ships can land in Israel for inspection and transfer to Gaza, international groups charge that the government holds on to the supplies and slows supplies to a trickle to punish Gazans for their support of Hamas. The World Health Organization has charged that Israel is stopping medical supplies and needed machines, like x-ray machines, from entering Gaza, here.

Prominent Jewish figures have also joined in condemning the blockade, here.

One country likely to face increased pressure is Egypt which under U.S. and Israeli pressure has closed its border to these goods passing through to Gaza. With the ongoing scandal over Israel’s assassination in Dubai in violation of the laws of various allies (here), this latest incident has already sparked massive protests around the world.

UPDATE: As expected, Egypt has opened its border to goods in response to the raid, here.

For the full story, click here and here.

153 thoughts on “Gaza Raid Triggers International Outcry and Question of International Law”

  1. Byron,

    You have been making extraordinary claims about working in the oil fields and offshore. Therefore, I request that you provide some kind of evidence that you worked as an engineer and that you worked on an offshore oil rig.

    You are spouting the same nonsense as Ms. Palin regarding offshore drilling and the following comment is what finally prompted me to ask for your engineer/offshore oil rig work credentials.

    Byron wrote:

    “The real tragedy will be shutting down offshore drilling and putting hundreds of thousands of people out of work because of worry about some seabirds and fish.”

  2. B-

    Reading the Manifesto would be a lot more digestable than wading through the volumes of Kapital to be sure, especially since, like it or not, the motor of history is still that irreconcilable class antagonism between those 2 great historic classes which will ultimately decide the fate of this planet — those have to sell their labor to survive and those who don’t.

    As far as embracing Marxism, the economies of the world didn’t have a choice because the free market left to its own devices proves unworkable in every instance.

    There was no Marxian economic practices in 1929 when the market crashed, resulting in real estate losing 90% of its value & unemployement for a third of the population. Hell, even trade union organizing was practically illegal back then.

    Welfare reforms granted by FDR because not because he was some bleeding heart liberal like ridiculous conservative mythology has it. On the contrary, it was in reality “riot insurance” for the ruling class to prevent the demise of capitalism which was immanent without such reforms & state intervention into the market. Conservatives were then, and still are, too stupid to understand that.

    Like John Stuart Mill said: “Although it is not true that all conservatives are stupid people, it is true that most stupid people are conservative.”

    Didn’t you ever read Orwell’s “The Road to Wiggan Pier” or “Down & Out in Paris & London” or Upton Sinclair’s “The Jungle” back in school? That’s what free market societies looked like until they came crashing down from within. It wouldn’t be your fault if you didn’t read such books however since one of the secrets to maintaining such a hideously iniquitous social arrangement (like the kind that would allow Neil Bush to walk away unscathed with $50 million — “you gotta admit it was a sweet deal” he said back when the public yet again bailed out the failed S&L’s in the 80’s) is dumbing down the population with inadequately funded public education.

    It’s no accident that the only Western Democracy without socialized medicine also features by far the largest gap between rich & poor. It’s pure hypocricy to preach “Life, Liberty & the Pursuit of Happiness” when some common illness easily sends a hard working family into bankruptcy, homelessness & ruin.

    The fact is the ruling class had no choice but to adopt socialist measures back in 1929. Same with today, 70 years later, because all the deregulation and undoing of the New Deal, that is, reverting back to the unfettered free market capitalism of the roaring 20’s, has always lead to financial disasters that threaten the entire system.

    By design these facts are purposely ommitted from school lessons. America became a superpower not because of entreprenuerial free marketism but on the contrary — because of protectionism. Free markets are Libertarian fantasies that have never been in practice & never can be because they don’t work. Free markets are what you preach to the gullible, like the suckers in East Europe or Latin America, but are never what made a nation strong.

    That’s why we used to sell latin Americans washing machines but not the machine tools to build them cheaper themselves because we wanted their dependency. We want uneven trade, not free trade, so that the 3rd world can trade for us their finite raw materials so we can then produce the finished products that keep them dependent, and us rich (albeit not so rich anymore).

    Back in the day we had huge industries like textiles & sugar and even rice precisely by making damn sure free marketeering nonsense didn’t ruin those industries with cheap foreign imports, just as we today subsidize billions to dairy farmers and pay soybean farmers NOT to plant crops. Having over 80% of America’s aerable land owned by just 7 Agribusiness, some of whom genetically modify crops for greater & greater profits at who knows what social cost, cannot possibly be a Libertarian’s dream society — nor is it Marxism.

    Yet even this old model of development is vanishing as America loses its manufacturing base. That’s why every honest economist see this latest depression as severely intractable. Even under the old model the Great Depression wasn’t stimulated until we manipulated our way into WWII by imposing an embargo on Japan’s oil supply, knowing they’d have to retaliate in some way. 2 weeks before Pearl Harbor the US cracked the Japanese communications codes, learned of the Pearl harbor attack, and sent all the modern ships out to sea 4 days before the blitz, so that the newest ship in Pearl Harbor on 12/7/41 was built in 1918, that is, it was obsolete.

    Afer all, what’s a few thousand sacrificed sailors and some junk ships in the grand scheme of getting capitalism out of the Depression through war production. Uncle Sam is constantly trolling for a pretext for war because ultimately he’s a predator. He’s like that Uncle that molests you as a child. Bottom line is capitalism unfettered always leads to the slaughter & ruin of working people.

    American free market principles have always been either hypocrisy or mythology. What’s always made Anglo nations strong is manipulating markets through public subsidies that enrich private individuals, or by monopolizing markets, typically through predatory wars & imperialist turpitude.

    Of course in Uncle Sam’s case it didn’t hurt getting started with free land from Indians from which to build on, plus free labor from slaves to build an agricultural infrastructure with, not to mention ultra cheap labor from the Chinese to build railroads, granting free land to the railroad robber barons.

    Today robber barons are still myriad, the biggest being the ones that get no-bid contracts for incomprehensibly costly & blunderoous Mideast wars, particularly the ones that charge the Pentagon $400 for each gallon of fuel used in prosecuting that criminal boondoggle in Afghanistan.

    There’s the fruits of the so-called free market system for you, a hideously bloated parasitic excresence like the Pentagon pissing away our collective sweat equity for 8 years on $400 per gallon gasoline in equipment that has fuel lines the diameter of swimming pool drains in a land that has been a graveyard for every empire that invaded it.

    As far as having the last laugh, well that’s impossible if you’re under the delusion that everything has a free market solution or that our predatory society’s days aren’t numbered.

  3. Lottakatz:

    I was aware of that spill. When I worked in the oil field 30 years ago (coincidentally for Sedco, now Transocean) the Mexican company had a very bad reputation for safety and so I stuck with American leases.

    Sedco by the way, even 30 years ago was quite the bear when it came to safety training and environmental concerns. They were a good company and had many fine people working for them. They had a superb training program for rig managers and all of the supervisors that I knew were extremely bright people who had spent many years working in various capacities.

    If Transocean is still the same company it was when it was Sedco I am betting the cause was BP in it’s haste to start producing or to begin new holes.

    This entire incident is a tragedy for all involved, but offshore oil drilling by good firms is not risky as evidenced by the record.

    The article you linked to also said that after 2 years things were pretty much back to normal and after 6 there was no evidence of an event except for some minor remains. As an aside I spent the summer and fall of 1980 tooling around the Gulf of Mexico working and never saw any evidence of that spill except for some minor black lines on the sand here and there on some beaches.

    The real tragedy will be shutting down offshore drilling and putting hundreds of thousands of people out of work because of worry about some seabirds and fish.

  4. Byron

    “We probably also wouldn’t be looking at a huge oil spill if oil companies had been allowed to drill in coastal waters. I may be wrong but I don’t think there has ever been a spill of anywhere near this magnitude on US leases in the past 50 years. Drilling in 400′ of water is relatively easy and you can use divers in case of a problem. Drilling in 50′ to 200′ of water is even easier.”

    Yes, ther has been. 1979. Blow-out preventer didn’t work.

    “Gulf oil spill: parallels with Ixtoc raise fears of ecological tipping point”

    “…the estimated 3m barrels of oil that poured into the sea over the next nine and a half months. The Ixtoc disaster is still by far the largest peacetime spill, as well as a lesson-packed forerunner of the disaster in progress, as the Deepwater Horizon also exploded and sank after a blowout preventer failed.”

  5. KF:

    dont worry I intend to, but I will have the last laugh, it is only a matter of time.

  6. KF:

    I am totally against bailing out companies, let them fail or succeed on their own abilities. Why should you or I pay for someone else’s stupidity. That isn’t free market capitalism.

    I haven’t gotten very far in Capital at this point, so I may change my mind but I did read the Manifesto and thought Marx missed the boat on many points. Although I believe he did write it in a hurry.

    The problems with most of the economies in the world is that they have embraced many tenets of Marxism. I also understand that Marx was responding to the remnants of the feudal system in Germany, so for starters Marx wasn’t even responding to a capitalist system. He also incorporated Hegel’s philosophy and wasn’t he a Young Hegelian for awhile? Isn’t Marxist philosophy a by product/extension of Hegel’s work?

  7. Right, Byron, you must be a real genius, since not even right wing economists dispense with Marx so handily. The market works just swell, so long as the public’s toilers periodically bail out failing private enterprises like banks, the very lynchpins of the market system, in order to keep all of society from collapsing into anarchy and civil war. You yourself were but just one state socialist intervention away from utter destitution & ruin.

    The gap between rich & poor has been ever expanding since Reagan. It expanded more under the abjectly criminal regime of Bush than in all of American history, as rampant war profiteering will tend to do that. Unemployment is more than double the official figures with no turnaround in sight. Understanding Marx, which you obviously don’t, is more important amidst this global crisis of capitalism than it ever has been. Only jackasses & knaves dismiss one of the world’s greatest living thinkers as a 2nd hander, especially when they’ve apparently gotten their main education not from actually understanding any of the great contributors to human knowledge but rather from skimming through Reader’s Digest & watching Fox News.

    Marxism, FYI, is substantially more than just studying the inherent & relentless crises of capitalist market anarchy that regularly turn millions of hard working people into paupers or ameliorating the social contradictions that invariably arise from societies based on human exploitation. It’s first & foremost the history of the downtrodden toilers’ and working people’s struggles against a myriad of social injustices which wouldn’t otherwise be written, but of course I don’t expect you to understand anything about that.

    So keep jotting down your critiques of Marx. We can all use a good laugh around here.

  8. KF:

    “The problem with this Libertarian fantasy however is that it’s increasingly difficult to make that buck, not for the reasons the Right suggests, like big government, but for reasons of concentration of corporatism, the mergers, acquisitions and concentration of wealth. The Wal-Marts of the world tear asunder the mom & pop businesses of main street forever.”

    I am always amazed that Wal-Mart is the bad guy, sure they are a typical big company and do some things that I would not do as an employer. But the fact remains that they help more people than they hurt in respect to going into communities and out competing Mom and Pop shops. The citizens of the town that don’t own stores usually save money when a big store like Wal-Mart or K-Mart or Home Depot come to town.

    When you have to pay $20 for a hammer at Pop’s Hardware and you can buy the same hammer for $10 at the big house you have saved an hour of your time that can now be used for something else. The truth about most small town mom and pop operations is that they are expensive and put very few towns people to work. And so big box stores are good for the lower middle class and the poor, it saves them enormous amounts of money every year. And they provide jobs, not the greatest jobs but jobs nonetheless. And there is opportunity for advancement to management.

    Does the local haberdashery owner have a divine right to a permanent position?

    The market works and Marxism doesn’t, it isn’t rocket science.

    I am just starting to read Capital, the worker may add the value but the capitalist provides for the ability of the worker to add the value. If the workers want to unite let them pool their money and start their own business and own the means of production rather than trying to exterminate the capitalist and steal his property.

    But it is always easier to steal something than actually create it yourself, ask any 2-bit 2nd story man. Marx was a second hander pandering to second handers.

  9. From The Jersulaem Post:

    In 2006, a report issued by the Danish Institute for International Studies stated that during the 1990s the IHH maintained links with al-Qaida and a number of “global jihad networks.” The report also said that the Turkish government launched an investigation into the IHH starting December 1997 after receiving intelligence that the IHH had bought automatic weapons from Islamist terrorists.

    The report said that following the revelation, the Turkish government launched a raid on the organization’s Istanbul offices, where they found weapons, explosives, and instructions for bomb-making. The report added that an examination of documents found at the IHH office indicated that the group was planning to take part in terrorist activities in Afghanistan, Chechnya, and Bosnia.

    According to the study, a French intelligence report found that in the mid-1990s IHH leader B’ulent Yildirim recruited soldiers for jihad activities in a number of Muslim countries and that the IHH transferred money, firearms, and explosives to jihadists in said countries.

    Izzet Sahnin, an employee of the IHH was arrested by the security services outside Bethlehem in April for what the Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency) said was suspicion that he “was working for an extended period of time in Judea and Samaria for the Turkish organization IHH, which Israel declared illegal in 2008.

    Unless the Danes are said be complicit in the manipulation of information, this is a pretty damning indictment of the IHH and their motives in the recent incident.

    There’s also this tantalizing little tidbit from the Danish study (“Study”) that might interest those home grown Israeli bashers out there:

    During the later Seattle trial of would-be Al-Qaida Millenium bomber Ahmed Ressam, federal
    prosecutors called French magistrate Bruguiere to the stand as an expert witness. Bruguiere testified that IHH had played “[a]n important role” in the Al-Qaida Millenium bomb plot
    targeting LAX. Under repeated questioning, Bruguiere insisted that “[t]here’s a rather close
    The IHH is an NGO, but it was kind of a type of cover-up… in order to obtain forged documents and also to obtain different forms of infiltration for Mujahideen in combat. And also to go and gather[recruit] these Mujahideens. And
    finally, one of the last responsibilities that they had was also to be implicated or
    involved in weapons trafficking.48
    Years later, Bulent Yildrim and the IHH also played a key role in galvanizing anti-Western
    sentiment among Turkish Muslims in the lead-up to the 2003 war in Iraq. By late 2002, the
    IHH was instrumental in convening large and raucous protest rallies opposed to the thenimminent
    effort to depose Saddam Hussein, capped off by the burning of U.S. and Israeli
    flags.49 Even after the initial U.S. invasion of Iraq, IHH has continued to bitterly oppose the
    presence of Western troops in Mesopotamia. Leading another anti-U.S. rally in Istanbul in
    December 2004, Bulent Yildrim told the Anatolia News Agency, “Intelligence cooperation
    between the United States, Britain and Turkey must be stopped. Otherwise we will organize
    actions at every consulate, and if necessary will assembly 50,000 or 100,000 people at the US
    consulate.”50 Protestors at the December rally reportedly shouted various slogans, including
    “Murderer US, get out of the Middle East” and “Long live our resistance.”51
    (Study, p. 12).

    I suspect the motives of the IHH are now clear: defy the IDF, force an incident, and use the fallout and unwitting criticism to end the blockade. Nice try, but no dice — at least with me.

    The article can be found here:

    The peer reviewed Danish study is here:

  10. [Most of the rich people I know aren’t too worried about social engineering, they just want to be able to make a buck, build a company and enjoy the fruits of a life of hard work and huge responsibility.]

    The problem with this Libertarian fantasy however is that it’s increasingly difficult to make that buck, not for the reasons the Right suggests, like big government, but for reasons of concentration of corporatism, the mergers, aquisitions and concentration of wealth. The Wal-Marts of the world tear asunder the mom & pop businesses of main street forever. Sociologically speaking, the main ingredients of fascism has always been Economic Decline & the Stampeding Petty Bourgeoisie amidst a Strong Labor Movement.

    What’s missing today is that strong labor movement that squeezes the stampeding petty bourgeoisie between the two great historic camps of organized labor and monopoly capital without which fascism as an enduring socio-political phenomena is impossible.

  11. KF:

    I believe the cost of oil from shale or coal is about $30-$40 per barrel.

    The problem as I see it is that Will is not right in his assessment, you see the screen writer probably is someone of slightly above average intelligence who has swallowed that collectivist line.

    But I do agree that government and business are way to cozy but then that is Fascism/collectivism which is typically militaristic.

    If we would/could drill for oil here and build Nuclear Power Plants Mr. Good Will wouldn’t have to get a job with the NSA he could go to work for a contractor or an oil company and actually do something productive.

    Most of the rich people I know aren’t too worried about social engineering, they just want to be able to make a buck, build a company and enjoy the fruits of a life of hard work and huge responsibility.

  12. bYRON:

    Not sure what your point was exactly but nevertheless it’s problematic.

    Multinational oil corporations have to pay union scale wages to drill in the USA, and then there’s potentially liabilities for spill disasters, even though they’ve been capped at absurdly low rates due to the coziness of Uncle Sam to big oil’s interests. If they screw up the environment in a 3rd World country they can bribe their way out relative cheap like Union carbide did in Bopal.

    Bottom line is it’s much more profitable for the ruling class to use public tax revenues generated primarily by workers to finance militarism in places like the Mideast where oil can be pilfered for a fraction of the overhead, particularly since Joe Six Pack foots the bulk of the bill, you know, welfare for the rich.

    There was a great line that captured this phenom in the movie “Good Will Hunting” where the hero Will, a working class math genius, was being interviewed for a job at the N.S.A.:

    “Will: Why shouldn’t I work for the N.S.A.? That’s a tough one, but I’ll give it a shot. Say I’m working at N.S.A. Somebody puts a code on my desk, something nobody else can break. So I take a shot at it and maybe I break it. And I’m real happy with myself, ’cause I did my job well. But maybe that code was the location of some rebel army in North Africa or the Middle East. Once they have that location, they bomb the village where the rebels were hiding and fifteen hundred people I never had a problem with get killed. Now the politicians are sayin’, “Send in the marines to secure the area” ’cause they don’t give a shit. It won’t be their kid over there, gettin’ shot. Just like it wasn’t them when their number was called, ’cause they were pullin’ a tour in the National Guard. It’ll be some guy from Southie takin’ shrapnel in the ass. And he comes home to find that the plant he used to work at got exported to the country he just got back from. And the guy who put the shrapnel in his ass got his old job, ’cause he’ll work for fifteen cents a day and no bathroom breaks. Meanwhile my buddy from Southie realizes the only reason he was over there was so we could install a government that would sell us oil at a good price. And of course the oil companies used the skirmish to scare up oil prices so they could turn a quick buck. A cute little ancillary benefit for them but it ain’t helping my buddy at two-fifty a gallon. And naturally they’re takin’ their sweet time bringin’ the oil back, and maybe even took the liberty of hiring an alcoholic skipper who likes to drink martinis and play slalom with the icebergs, and it ain’t too long ’til he hits one, spills the oil and kills all the sea life in the North Atlantic. So my buddy’s out of work and he can’t afford to drive, so he’s got to walk to the job interviews, which sucks ’cause the schrapnel in his ass is givin’ him chronic hemorroids. And meanwhile he’s starvin’ ’cause every time he tries to get a bite to eat the only blue plate special they’re servin’ is North Atlantic scrod with Quaker State. So what do I think? I’m holdin’ out for somethin’ better. Why not just shoot my buddy, take his job and give it to his sworn enemy, hike up gas prices, bomb a village, club a baby seal, hit the hash pipe and join the National Guard? I could be elected president.”

    Moreover, autos, semi-trucks & B52’s do NOT run on coal. Petroleum products, not coal, is what greases the wheels of US Imperialism. Squeezing oil out of coal reserves is possible but very costly as the Germans discovered in WWII.

  13. But Byron what about global warming and all that talk of sea level rise?

    AGAINST all the odds, a number of shape-shifting islands in the middle of the Pacific Ocean are standing up to the effects of climate change.

    For years, people have warned that the smallest nations on the planet – island states that barely rise out of the ocean – face being wiped off the map by rising sea levels. Now the first analysis of the data broadly suggests the opposite: most have remained stable over the last 60 years, while some have even grown

    Paul Kench at the University of Auckland in New Zealand and Arthur Webb at the South Pacific Applied Geoscience Commission in Fiji used historical aerial photos and high-resolution satellite images to study changes in the land surface of 27 Pacific islands over the last 60 years. During that time, local sea levels have risen by 120 millimetres, or 2 millimetres per year on average.

    Despite this, Kench and Webb found that just four islands have diminished in size since the 1950s. The area of the remaining 23 has either stayed the same or grown (Global and Planetary Change, DOI: 10.1016/j.gloplacha.2010.05.003).

    Webb says the trend is explained by the islands’ composition. Unlike the sandbars of the eastern US coast, low-lying Pacific islands are made of coral debris. This is eroded from the reefs that typically circle the islands and pushed up onto the islands by winds, waves and currents. Because the corals are alive, they provide a continuous supply of material. “Atolls are composed of once-living material,” says Webb, “so you have a continual growth.” Causeways and other structures linking islands can boost growth by trapping sediment that would otherwise get lost to the ocean.

    All this means the islands respond to changing weather and climate. For instance, when hurricane Bebe hit Tuvalu in 1972 it deposited 140 hectares of sedimentary debris onto the eastern reef, increasing the area of the main island by 10 per cent.


    we have more coal than the middle east has oil and huge deposits of oil shale and large deposits of oil and natural gas, all of which we cant use because of environmental restrictions. We could probably be energy independent by now if environmentalists had not been so intransigent in their opposition.

    We probably also wouldn’t be looking at a huge oil spill if oil companies had been allowed to drill in coastal waters. I may be wrong but I don’t think there has ever been a spill of anywhere near this magnitude on US leases in the past 50 years. Drilling in 400′ of water is relatively easy and you can use divers in case of a problem. Drilling in 50′ to 200′ of water is even easier.

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