From Veterans For Peace
U.S. State Department Should Demand Immediate Release of all Passengers
St. Louis, MO. — Veterans For Peace applauds the international Freedom Flotilla 3, including prominent VFP member, Colonel Ann Wright (USAR Retired), and the courage of all who attempted to break the Israeli siege of Gaza this week.
We deplore the Israeli government’s illegal seizure, in international waters, of the lead boat, the Marianne of Gothenburg from Sweden, and the illegal abduction of her crew and passengers. We call for the immediate release of the ship, along with its crew and passengers and all of their confiscated property including their video recording devices, tapes, disks cards and any other devices they used to record exactly what happened when and after the boat was commandeered.
We are also disturbed by credible reports now being heard that flotilla volunteers were subjected to unnecessary levels of violence from Israeli military personnel who reportedly tased four unarmed civilians. At least 9 crew and passengers are currently detained. These actions of the Israeli government confirm Israel’s status as a true rogue state and demand a strong response from the United States Government.
In 1801 President Thomas Jefferson sent United States Naval ships to the Mediterranean Sea to protect U.S. ships from the danger of the Barbary Pirates. More recently U.S. naval vessels were dispatched to the seas off the coast of Somalia to intervene against pirates from that country. Whether piracy is carried out by the Barbary Pirates, the pirates of Somalia or the Israeli navy, seizing a ship in international waters and abducting its crew and passengers is an act of piracy that flagrantly violates international maritime law.
Article 87(a) of the UN Convention on the Laws of the Seas provides for general freedom of navigation on the high seas, and Article 88 states: “The high seas shall be reserved for peaceful purposes.” Article 89 states: “No State may validly purport to subject any part of the high seas to its sovereignty.”
We note the sharp contradiction between U.S. policy against piracy from 1801 through the present, supporting international maritime law, and the failure of our government to condemn or sanction acts of piracy by the Israeli government using boats, helicopters and weapons provided to Israel by the United States – even when that military assistance was used to murder nine Turkish civilians including a Turkish-American citizen in the previous Freedom Flotilla in 2010.
We therefore call upon the U.S. government to immediately cease military aid to Israel as required by the U.S. Arms Export Control Act and to refer any future Israeli crimes of piracy and abduction against American citizens to the International Criminal Court in The Hague.
Veterans For Peace wholeheartedly support the demands of the Freedom Flotilla. The Israeli siege of Gaza must end, as well as the ongoing Israeli occupation of the West Bank and East Jerusalem, both of which are in clear violation of international laws including United Nations Security Resolution 242 – which calls for Israel to withdraw from the lands it seized in the 1967 War – and numerous requirements of the Fourth Geneva Convention.
We encourage our members to contact the Israeli Embassy at the telephone numbers below to demand the release of the Marianne, all of the currently imprisoned Freedom Flotilla activists and all of their possessions.
And to end the illegal siege of Gaza.
Ifat Reshef – Minister Counselor for Middle Eastern Affairs.
Ofer Moreno – Minister Counselor for Political Affairs.
Itai Bar-Dov – Counselor for Political Affairs.
Thank you for your immediate action!
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