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Human Rights Group Condemns Israel’s Seizure of Flotilla to Gaza

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press@ccrjustice.org

November 4, 2011, New York, NY – Today, amidst reports that the Israeli navy has intercepted the Freedom Waves Flotilla in international waters and boarded two boats attempting to deliver humanitarian aid to Gaza, the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) issued the following statement, condemning Israel’s actions:
 
“The Center for Constitutional Rights condemns Israel’s use of military force to yet again forcibly stop a nonviolent effort to break the siege on Gaza. Human rights defenders were attempting to reach Palestinians imprisoned in Gaza to deliver medical supplies and letters to the people there. Israel’s blockade is illegal under international law, constituting collective punishment prohibited by the Geneva Conventions, and has caused excessive and disproportionate harm to the civilian population of Gaza, leading to a humanitarian crisis of epic proportions. The use of force against unarmed activists threatens grave injury or worse to peaceful protestors, as we saw in May 2010, when Israeli commandos killed nine unarmed passengers, including one American citizen, on the Freedom Flotilla I. As a nonviolent protest, the flotilla should instead be ensured safe travel, permitted to reach Gaza, and protected from the use of force. The Center for Constitutional Rights condemns the illegal blockade of Gaza and this intervention by the Israeli navy, and calls on the United States and the international community to help end the illegal blockade and the isolation of Palestinians, as well as impunity for Israel’s use of force.”
 
The two boats set sail unannounced from Turkey, carrying twenty-seven human rights activists from several countries including the United States, and announced the attempt only after reaching international waters. This latest attempt comes less than six months after the “Stay Human Flotilla” was detained and sabotaged in Greece by local port authorities in response to mounting pressure from the United States and Israel.
 
The Center for Constitutional Rights is engaged in Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) litigation seeking information about the U.S. knowledge of, and response to, the attack on last year’s flotilla. On October 24, 2011, the Department of State produced 126 documentsto CCR pursuant to CCR’s FOIA litigation. For more information, please see our case page.  For a factsheet about the illegality of the blockade of Gaza and the attack on the Gaza flotilla, please click here.

The Center for Constitutional Rights is dedicated to advancing and protecting the rights guaranteed by the United States Constitution and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Founded in 1966 by attorneys who represented civil rights movements in the South, CCR is a non-profit legal and educational organization committed to the creative use of law as a positive force for social change.