NGO gets court or­der to seize flotilla to com­pen­sate vic­tims

Jerusalem Post - - NEWS - • By YONAH JEREMY BOB

An NGO ob­tained an un­usual court or­der on Wednes­day to seize a flotilla – which is try­ing to break Is­rael’s block­ade of Gaza – in or­der to pro­vide as­sis­tance to ter­ror­ist vic­tims, even though those boats have not yet been cap­tured by the IDF.

Shu­rat Hadin – Is­rael Law Cen­ter, rep­re­sent­ing ter­ror­ist vic­tims’ fam­i­lies, got Jerusalem District Court Judge Moshe Drori to is­sue a tem­po­rary seizure or­der for two Nor­we­gian ships, which are due to reach Gaza’s mar­itime area as part of the flotilla in the com­ing weeks.

The in­terim court or­der means that the ships, the Karstein and Free­dom, worth be­tween €75,000 and €150,000, will be ini­tially des­ig­nated to be sold, the pro­ceeds go­ing to ben­e­fit the vic­tims of Ha­mas ter­ror­ism, should the IDF cap­ture them while try­ing to break the block­ade.

Ac­cord­ing to court doc­u­ments, the ships’ owner and Ha­mas would still have an op­por­tu­nity to con­test the seizure and sale of the ships be­fore a fi­nal or­der is granted.

The flotilla’s or­ga­niz­ers have said that if they suc­ceed in reach­ing Gaza, the ships will be do­nated to civil­ian or­ga­ni­za­tions and lo­cal fish­er­men.

But Shu­rat Hadin, bring­ing ex­pert wit­nesses for­mer Dep. Navy com­man­der Rear-Ad­mi­ral Noam Feig and for­mer Co­or­di­na­tor of Govern­ment Ac­tiv­i­ties in the Ter­ri­to­ries (COGAT) of­fi­cial Aryeh Spitzen, told the court that Ha­mas would most likely use the ships to in­crease the size of its navy. Even if the ships were ini­tially do­nated to civil­ian causes, Ha­mas’s de­sire to use them to at­tack Is­raeli naval ves­sels, nat­u­ral gas fa­cil­i­ties and for more at­tempts to break the block­ade would be too hard for it to re­sist.

Drori did not or­der the IDF to seize the ships and said he would ex­press no opin­ion re­gard­ing how the state should han­dle the is­sue of the ships from a na­tional se­cu­rity per­spec­tive.

Rather, the court said its or­der sim­ply meant that if the IDF chose to seize the ships and brought them to Is­rael, the tem­po­rary seizure or­der would then ap­ply to the ships.

The pe­ti­tion lead­ing to the court or­der was filed on be­half of the Gav­ish fam­ily, who was killed in the 2002 Passover ter­ror­ist at­tack – David, Rachel, their son Avra­ham, and ma­ter­nal grand­fa­ther Yitzhak Kan­ner.

Shu­rat Hadin was also rep­re­sent­ing the fam­ily of Adam We­in­stein – mur­dered in a 2001 Jerusalem ter­ror­ist at­tack.

In 2006, a dif­fer­ent judge ruled that Ha­mas give the Gav­ish fam­ily NIS 90 mil­lion, but un­til the seizure or­der re­gard­ing the ships there had been no way to get Ha­mas to pay.

The We­in­stein fam­ily’s case is still on­go­ing be­fore Drori in a sep­a­rate le­gal pro­ceed­ing.

The rul­ing raises ques­tions about whether it will be upheld if it is later ap­pealed, as the Supreme Court in Au­gust 2016 is­sued a rul­ing block­ing the state from con­fis­cat­ing the Estelle, the Swedish ship used in a 2012 flotilla aimed at break­ing Is­rael’s Gaza block­ade.

How­ever, that rul­ing had re­jected the state’s de­sire to con­fis­cate the ship on the grounds that the state waited nearly a year to make its con­fis­ca­tion re­quest.

It was un­clear whether Shu­rat Hadin’s pre­emp­tive claim and its ar­gu­ment that it needed the boats to ful­fill Is­raeli court judg­ments would be enough to lead to a dif­fer­ent re­sult should the ships’ own­ers ap­peal upon a seizure.

“Flotilla or­ga­niz­ers sail here on ships ev­ery year to try to break the naval block­ade of the Gaza Strip and to vi­o­late the sovereignty of Is­rael,” said Shu­rat Hadin di­rec­tor Nit­sana Dar­shan-Leit­ner.

“Ev­ery year they are stopped by the IDF and their ships are towed to the Ash­dod Port and they are sent home as if noth­ing oc­curred. No longer. This time, the ships will not be re­turned to their own­ers, but will be turned over to ter­ror­ist vic­tims. For the first time, the flotilla or­ga­niz­ers will learn that there is a price to pay for their provo­ca­tions, for sys­tem­atic vi­o­la­tions of in­ter­na­tional law and for sup­port­ing a ter­ror­ist or­ga­ni­za­tion.”

In the past, Shu­rat Hadin has also suc­ceeded in de­lay­ing or help­ing to get flotil­las can­celed us­ing law­suits to sab­o­tage flotilla ships’ in­surance.


SOL­DIERS BOARD one of the two Gaza-bound boats car­ry­ing pro-Pales­tinian ac­tivists in the Mediter­ranean Sea in 2011.

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