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Addendum: Today, The Israel Project had a conference call with Wolff Heintschel von Heinegg. Challah Hu Akbar attended the call and took notes. von Heinegg made some introductory comments before questions were asked. Here is some of what he said:
...The organizers of the upcoming flotilla have stated that their intent is to break the blockade of Gaza, thus the IDF is not required to wait for the flotilla to reach the blockade line of 20 nautical miles before they capture the ship.
If they attempt to breach Israel’s blockade, they must follow all of Israel’s orders. They are required by international law to comply with all Israeli demands.
The organizers of the flotilla state that they are pursuing humanitarian purposes; assume this is true for argument’s sake. Of course, a blockade must take into humanitarian considerations, however, this does not mean any humanitarian consideration.
For the blockade to be prohibited the humanitarian crisis inflicted on the civilian population would need to be excessive in relation to the military advantage anticipated from the blockade. The inconveniences in Gaza cannot be considered excessive. In reality, the blockade would only be excessive if it was preventing essential goods needed for survival.
The blockading power has the right to search ships. In addition, they may prescribe certain routes for the ships to take and they have the authority to decide how the goods are disseminated.
It is quite clear that if the organizers offer resistance or do not comply with the IDF, they [the IDF] are entitled, but in truth, obliged to take all necessary measures to prevent the flotilla from breaking the blockade.
...Question: What is your take on the latest news regarding Gilad Shalit?
If the Palestinians wish to be taken seriously by international community and by human rights activists as well, they should reconsider their position and do everything to provide him with the fundamental rights guaranteed to all prisoners. They should give the ICRC immediate access.
Question: Do the rockets from Gaza have any legal basis?
I do not think there is anything under international law that allows this. I don’t care so much if there is some form of legitimacy. To me it is important that we see that there are armed hostilities. These hostilities show that there is an armed conflict. Due to this, Israel is entitled to make the use of the entire spectrum of the laws of armed conflict, including a blockade. The legality of the rockets plays no role to the view of whether the IDF can create or enforce a blockade.
Question: What is your take on the UN’s position on the flotilla?
We know there is no official UN position. We know that last year the UNHRC delivered an opinion, which bluntly stated that the blockade is unlawful without giving an argument as to how it reached that conclusion. It claimed collective punishment and all the international lawyers that I have spoken to are shaking their heads as they say it is not collective punishment, this is a matter of warfare. Recently, we have seen that Israel goes behind the requirement of providing the essential goods for survival.[emphasis added]
Hat tip: KS
Technorati Tag: Gaza Flotilla and Freedom+Flotilla.