On Sunday, Israel murdered human rights workers who were attempting to deliver 10,000 tons of humanitarian aid to the people of Gaza, because Gaza has been virtually cut off from the outside world by Israel. At least 19 people were reportedly killed and dozens injured when Israeli troops boarded the 6-ship Freedom Flotilla convoy in international waters and immediately fired live ammunition at the people on board the ships.
The convoy was comprised of 700 people from 50 nationalities and included a Nobel laureate, members of parliament from Ireland, Germany, Sweden, Turkey and Malaysia, as well as Palestinian members of the Israeli Knesset and a Holocaust survivor.
Israel’s armed attack on these human rights workers constitutes a clear breach of international law. The human rights workers should be released immediately, medical treatment should be provided for the wounded, and all humanitarian aid materials should be immediately transferred to Gaza.
Human rights organizations and bar associations, including the International Association of Democratic Lawyers, the National Lawyers Guild, the International Jewish Anti-Zionist Network, MADRE, the European Association of Lawyers for Democracy, World Human Rights, the Palestinian Center for Human Rights, and the governments of Britain, France, Germany and Turkey have condemned the Israeli assault. The U.S. government, has not yet spoken out in opposition to the assault by Israel, the largest recipient of U.S. aid since World War II.
There should be an international investigation of crimes committed during and after Israel’s armed attack on the Freedom Flotilla and prosecution of all Israeli officials and soldiers responsible.
Israel must end its illegal blockade of Gaza, which constitutes unlawful aggression under General Assembly Resolution 3314 (1974). When the Security Council convenes, it should order Israel to cease its acts of aggression.
MARJORIE COHN, a professor at Thomas Jefferson School of Law and immediate past president of the National Lawyers Guild, is the deputy secretary general for external communications of the International Association of Democratic Lawyers, and the U.S. representative to the executive committee of the American Association of Jurists. See www.marjoriecohn.com.