C. Murray: Raid not piracy but war

Former British ambassador to Uzbekistan Craig Murray makes a strong argument here that the Israeli commandos’ assault on a Turkish-flagged civilian vessel in the high seas was an act not of piracy but of war. (HT Issandr el-Amrani.)
Murray writes:

    To attack a foreign flagged vessel in international waters is illegal. It is not piracy, as the Israeli vessels carried a military commission. It is rather an act of illegal warfare.
    Because the incident took place on the high seas does not mean however that international law is the only applicable law. The Law of the Sea is quite plain that, when an incident takes place on a ship on the high seas (outside anybody’s territorial waters) the applicable law is that of the flag state of the ship on which the incident occurred. In legal terms, the Turkish ship was Turkish territory.
    There are therefore two clear legal possibilities.
    Possibility one is that the Israeli commandos were acting on behalf of the government of Israel in killing the activists on the ships. In that case Israel is in a position of war with Turkey, and the act falls under international jurisdiction as a war crime.
    Possibility two is that, if the killings were not authorised Israeli military action, they were acts of murder under Turkish jurisdiction. If Israel does not consider itself in a position of war with Turkey, then it must hand over the commandos involved for trial in Turkey under Turkish law.
    In brief, if Israel and Turkey are not at war, then it is Turkish law which is applicable to what happened on the ship. It is for Turkey, not Israel, to carry out any inquiry or investigation into events and to initiate any prosecutions. Israel is obliged to hand over indicted personnel for prosecution.

Murray also notes, interestingly, that the new (Conservative) British Foreign Minister, William Hague, has issued a statement on the massacre that is considerably stronger and better than anything one would ever have heard from “New” Labour.

2 thoughts on “C. Murray: Raid not piracy but war”

  1. Stop all EU and US trade and aid until ISRAEL lifts unlawful blockade on Gaza, compensates families of those killed and injured on the high seas and releases all passengers.
    International action is required to curb Israel’s increasing aggression against unarmed civilians the killing of whom is a violation of international law. Over 1200 were killed in Lebanon, over 900 killed in Gaza and now at least 10 killed and many injured yesterday on the high seas in international waters in an unwarranted attack by Israeli troops.
    The UN is still investigating the deliberate killings in Gaza just 18 months ago which included 320 children and 110 women by Israel, but to date no one has yet been arrested and put on trial before the ICC, the court established by the international community to try such cases of alleged war crimes and crimes against humanity.
    It is clear that these killings are terrorism by a state authority – terrorism being defined as the calculated use of violence (or the threat of violence) against civilians in order to attain goals that are political or religious.
    The urgent question now is why do we continue to trade with a state that is patently engaged in the oppression of its political opponents? For three years Israel has illegally blockaded 1.5 million people in Gaza, many of whom are starving and dying from lack of food and adequate medical supplies, notwithstanding Israeli propaganda claims to the contrary. Gaza is a giant prison camp and the international community is apparently too intimidated by the US to voice any concerns or take any action.
    Now is the time for the EU to cease all bilateral trade with the Israeli state until such time as it once again is prepared to join the community of democratic nations that abide by international law and outlaws terrorism against civilian populations.
    If we are to avoid a global conflict, both the US and the EU governments must break away from the undue influence of the Israel lobbies in their respective constituencies and stop colluding in state terrorism. Neither the American nor the British electorates have voted for war on behalf of this Israeli government.

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