January 15 2009
Israel Navy ships forced a boat trying to deliver food and medical supplies to Gaza to return to Cyprus early Thursday.
Free Gaza group spokeswoman Mary Hughes-Thompson said Israeli naval vessels surrounded the 66-foot (20-meter) Greek-flagged boat off the coast of southern Lebanon and threatened to open fire if it did not turn back. The Israel Defense Forces said navy ships warned the boat to turn back because it was entering a war zone subject to a naval blockade.
The ship turned back without incident, the military said. Hughes-Thompson said the boat, carrying five tons of supplies and 21 passengers, including three surgeons, was expected to arrive at Larnaca port in Cyprus by Thursday evening.
It was the second failed bid by the U.S.-based group to try to reach Gaza
since Israel launched its assault on the Palestinian territory late last month in response to rocket fire on Israel.
One of the trip’s organizers, Vangelis Pisias, said the Israeli navy had
threatened to open fire on the Greek-flagged boat Spirit of Humanity, which was carrying the activists.
“They told us that it was forbidden to go to our destination. We replied that we were carrying humanitarian supplies and continued on our course,” Pisias told Greece’s private Antenna television.
“About half an hour later, they returned with a threat, telling us they were obliged to stop the boat with all means possible… They said if we did not stop they would shoot.”
In a statement, Free Gaza said the incident occurred in international waters and described the incident as shocking.
“At roughly 1:00 A.M. GMT, in international waters 100 miles off the coast of Gaza, at least five Israeli gunboats surrounded the Spirit of Humanity and began recklessly cutting in front of the slow-moving civilian craft,” the statement said.
In Athens, the Greek Foreign Ministry said it had sent a strong protest to the Israeli Foreign Ministry that emphasized and asked for the Israeli authorities to pay particular attention to the protection of the lives and security of those on board the boat.
It said protests had also been sent the previous day to the Israeli foreign and defense ministries.
Israel does not own International Waters. Seems again they are a bit out of touch with reality. They behaved more like Pirates would.
Right of innocent passage
Subject to this Convention, ships of all States, whether coastal or land-locked, enjoy the right of innocent passage through the territorial sea.
Meaning of innocent passage
1. Passage is innocent so long as it is not prejudicial to the peace, good order or security of the coastal State. Such passage shall take place in conformity with this Convention and with other rules of international law.
2. Passage of a foreign ship shall be considered to be prejudicial to the peace, good order or security of the coastal State if in the territorial sea it engages in any of the following activities:
(a) any threat or use of force against the sovereignty, territorial integrity or political independence of the coastal State, or in any other manner in violation of the principles of international law embodied in the Charter of the United Nations;
(b) any exercise or practice with weapons of any kind;
(c) any act aimed at collecting information to the prejudice of the defence or security of the coastal State;
(d) any act of propaganda aimed at affecting the defence or security of the coastal State;
(e) the launching, landing or taking on board of any aircraft;
(f) the launching, landing or taking on board of any military device;
(g) the loading or unloading of any commodity, currency or person contrary to the customs, fiscal, immigration or sanitary laws and regulations of the coastal State;
(h) any act of wilful and serious pollution contrary to this Convention;
(i) any fishing activities;
(j) the carrying out of research or survey activities;
(k) any act aimed at interfering with any systems of communication or any other facilities or installations of the coastal State;
(l) any other activity not having a direct bearing on passage.
Laws and regulations of the coastal State relating to innocent passage
1. The coastal State may adopt laws and regulations, in conformity with the provisions of this Convention and other rules of international law, relating to innocent passage through the territorial sea, in respect of all or any of the following:
(a) the safety of navigation and the regulation of maritime traffic;
(b) the protection of navigational aids and facilities and other facilities or installations;
(c) the protection of cables and pipelines;
(d) the conservation of the living resources of the sea;
(e) the prevention of infringement of the fisheries laws and regulations of the coastal State;
(f) the preservation of the environment of the coastal State and the prevention, reduction and control of pollution thereof;
(g) marine scientific research and hydrographic surveys;
(h) the prevention of infringement of the customs, fiscal, immigration or sanitary laws and regulations of the coastal State.
Duties of the coastal State
1. The coastal State shall not hamper the innocent passage of foreign ships through the territorial sea except in accordance with this Convention. In particular, in the application of this Convention or of any laws or regulations adopted in conformity with this Convention, the coastal State shall not:
(a) impose requirements on foreign ships which have the practical effect of denying or impairing the right of innocent passage; or
(b) discriminate in form or in fact against the ships of any State or against ships carrying cargoes to, from or on behalf of any State.
Just a few Excerpts to ponder. The piracy part is rather interesting as well.
Good faith and abuse of rights
States Parties shall fulfil in good faith the obligations assumed under this Convention and shall exercise the rights, jurisdiction and freedoms recognized in this Convention in a manner which would not constitute an abuse of right.
Peaceful uses of the seas
In exercising their rights and performing their duties under this Convention, States Parties shall refrain from any threat or use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of any State, or in any other manner inconsistent with the principles of international law embodied in the Charter of the United Nations