|U.S. NEUTRALITY ACT VIOLATED BY GAZA BOAT ORGANIZERS
Shurat HaDin Warns California AG
July 30, 2008
|U.S. Neutrality Act Violated by Gaza Boat Organizers Shurat HaDin Warns California AG
30 July 2008
CONTACT: Nitsana Darshan-Leitner 917-519-9340
Sacramento: In an urgent letter dispatched to The Hon. Edmund G. Brown, Attorney General of the State of California, Shurat HaDin director Nitsana Darshan-Leitner warns the AG that the International Solidarity Movement (ISM), and others, have conspired to violate the U.S. Neutrality Act, 18 U.S.C. 960, within the boundaries of his state.
Attorney Darshan-Leitner writes in her letter that the organizers of the "Gaza Boat" program have violated the Neutrality Act by illegally raising money in California to bankroll two boats which they plan to sail into Gaza on August 5. The boats are reportedly leaving Piraeus, Greece with ISM members on board August 1. Based on prior experience, serious concerns that the boats will
be carrying weapons, explosives and contraband have been raised by security experts.
The U.S. Neutrality Act that is codified in section 960 of title 18 of the U.S. Code, stating:
"Whosoever, within the United States, knowingly begins or sets on foot or provides or prepares a means for or furnishes the
money for, or takes part in, any military or naval expedition or enterprise to be carried on from thence against the territory or dominion of any foreign prince or state, or of any colony, district, or people with whom the United States is at peace, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than three years, or both."
According to the project website as archived by Google on July 24, 2008 - The Carter Center of former U.S. President Jimmy Carter and the Archbishop Desmond Tutu have both endorsed the project (www.imra.org.il/story.php3?id=40027). According
to news reports, the Carter Center was also involved in funding of the project.
Shurat HaDin's letter charges that the organizers have openly solicited support for the hostile expedition against a friendly nation
in violation of the U.S. Neutrality Act and urges the AG of California and the Federal Bureau of Investigations to launch a full inquiry into the funding of the flotilla and to prosecute all those involved to the full extent of the law should the allegations prove true.
The following is the text of Shurat HaDin's Letter to Attorney General Brown:
Attorney General Edmund G. Brown
Office of Attorney General California
Department of Justice
P.O. Box 944255 Sacramento, CA 94244-2550
Dear Attorney General Brown,
Re: Conspiracy to Violate the U.S. Neutrality Act, 18 U.S.C. 960
Dear Attorney General
I am writing to bring to your attention a serious matter regarding what might be an ongoing conspiracy to violate the U.S. Neutrality Act 18 U.S.C. 960, and an attempt to aid & abet the Palestinian terrorist organization Hamas which is occurring within your juristiction with the support and under the direction of an organization known as "The Free Gaza Movement," located at 405 Vista Heights Road, El Cerrito, California 94530.
The Palestinian terrorist organization Hamas is currently designated as a Foreign Terrorist Organization by the U.S. government.
In June 2007, Hamas ousted Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas's Fatah party from the Gaza Strip and subsequently took
power where it has engaged in a relentless campaign to obtain weapons and explosives and to terrorize both Israelis and moderate Palestinians. As a result of constant rocket attacks from Gaza on Israel's coastal cities, on September 19, 2007 the Israeli government declared that "Hamas is a terrorist organization that has taken control of the Gaza Strip and turned it into hostile territory." Similarly, Secretary of State Condolezza Rice affirmed "Hamas is indeed a hostile entity. It's a hostile entity to the United States as well.
In an effort to prevent Hamas from obtaining any additional military equipment and to impose economic pressure on the Hamas leadership in Gaza, the Israeli Security Cabinet imposed a series of sanctions on the Gaza Strip including a coastal blockade that is being implemented by the Israeli navy. The naval blockade is particularly important in light of previous attempts by the Iranian government to transfer weapons to Palestinian militants at sea such as occurred in January 2002 when the Israeli navy seized the "Karine A" ship that was loaded with 50 tons of Iranian supplied weaponry.
There are several provisions within the agreements signed by Israel and the Palestinian Authority that grant Israel the right to implement a naval blockade on the Gaza Strip. Specifically, the September 28, 1995 Israeli-Palestinian Interim Agreement on the West Bank and the Gaza Strip that was signed in Washington D.C. states in Article XIV that Israel has "the responsibility for defense against external threats, including. For defense against external threats from the sea and from the air.:" Moreover, in Article XIV of the Interim Agreement titled "Security along the Coastline to the sea of Gaza" Israel and the Palestinian Authority agreed that foreign vessels would "not approach closer than 12 nautical miles from the coast" unless specifically authorized pursuant to jointly agreed regulations and that in the absence of such conditions all foreign vessels would be required to dock at Israeli approved ports. (Because there are no international ports open to foreign vessels in Gaza at this time, it is currently illegal for foreign vessels to attempt to dock in Gaza without explicit Israeli authorization.) Finally, in a letter to Prime Minister Sharon
on April 14, 2004 shortly before Israel's withdrawal from the Gaza Strip President Bush confirmed "[t]he United States under-stands that after Israel withdraws from Gaza and/or parts of the West Bank, and pending agreements on other arrangements, existing arrangements regarding control of airspace, territorial waters, and land passages of the West Bank and Gaza will continue."
Nevertheless, despite the clear unequivocal policy of the United States to support Israel's right to control the security of the terri-torial waters around Gaza and to isolate Hamas from external support, the extremist Free Gaza Movement is attempting to under-mine the foreign policy of both the United States and Israel by raising money to violate the Interim Agreement regarding foreign vessels and to undermine Israel's sovereign authority. On The Free Gaza Movement website located at www.freegaza.org requests are being made to finance a "Break the Siege ship" that is tentatively set to sail in August 2008 (See also http://www.freegaza.org/pages/joinin.html#aboard). According to the information on its website the ship "will sail directly to
Gaza without going through Israeli territory and without seeking permission from Israeli authorities." However, because Israel
has exclusive security authority over foreign vessels that are attempting to dock in Gaza, The Free Gaza Movement is openly soliciting support in this country for a hostile expedition against a friendly nation in violation of the U.S. Neutrality Act that is codified in section 960 of title 18 of the U.S.Code. This law states:
Whoever, within the United States knowingly begins or sets on foot or provides or prepares a means for or furnishes the money
for, or takes part in, any military or naval expedition or enterprise to be carried on from thence against the territory or dominion of any foreign prince or state, or of any colony, district, or people with whom the United States is at peace, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than three years, or both.
As such, the action of The Free Gaza Movement are nothing short of an attempt to violate the laws of the State of Israel and to
engage in conduct that has the effect of undermining the national security of a U.S. ally. Consequently, I respectfully request that your office take all necessary and appropriate actions to uphold the laws of the United States, to investigate those that are organi-zing and funding this illegal effort and to enjoin any unlawful activity on the part of The Free Gaza Movement.
Nitsana Darshan--Leitner, Esq