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Monday, May 23, 2011

Lawfare - to stop flotillas to Gaza!

From The Times of London, May 17th (not available online):
An Israeli human rights group has warned Lloyd's of London that it may be liable for massive damages if it insures ships that are used by suspected terrorist organisations to sail to the Gaza Strip.

The legal warning, sent to.Lloyd's and all the other main maritime insurance companies in the world, asserted that under international law Lloyd's would be open to charges of aiding and abetting terrorism jf it contributed in any way to the passage of ships to Gaza, which is controlled by Hamas, an Islamist movement designated by the United States, Israel and the European Union as a terrorist group.

Lloyd's is the biggest insurance market in the world.

The announcement, issued by Shurat Din, a legal centre in Tel Aviv, came on the day that the Israeli navy fired warning shots at a Malaysian chartered ship carrying sewerage pipes to Gaza from the Egyptian port of al Arish, forcing it to turn back.

The Malaysian aid group that organised the delivery said that the ship was a few hundred yards off the Gaza coast when the Israeli naval vessel forced it back.

Nitsana Darshan Leitner,the founder of the Israeli law centre, said that the point of the legal threat was to prevent a flotilla of aid ships from approaching Gaza this month to mark the first anniversary of a raid by Israeli naval commandos on a Turkish ferry heading for the blockaded enclave.

Lloyd's said that it would refuse to underwrite a vessel backed by terrorist or related organisations on any trip that would be in breach of sanctions.

The insurance market said: "Hamas is subject to UK and EU terrorist financing sanctions.As such, any  vessel identified as being owned or controlled by that organisation would not be permitted to be insured by Lloyd's, or any other EU insurer."

It declined to address the veiled legal threat in the letter directly.

Any shipowner planning to send vessels into Gaza would have to notify the Lloyd's of London market in  advance, 'providing details of the cargo, because Israel is designated a war risk for the purposes of providing cover.

Lloyd's indicated that if its members had been deceived about the true purpose of a trip the insurance cover would instantly be invalid.

Darshan Leitner, an Israeli lawyer who specialises in cases involving victims of terrorist attacks, said: "Before Israel gets into another mess with the navy and the flotilla, we don't want bloodshed on the sea again. This is a way that the private sector can help the Government prevent terrorism."

She said that under international law no link had to be established between a specific terrorism attack and a particular ship heading into Gaza: "That's the beauty of this. It doesn't have to link directly. The law in the US and Israel and maybe in other countries is that when it comes to terrorism, it is very strict that anyone aiding and abetting a designated terrorist organisation, the liability is on you for any terrorist attack that that  organisation carries out," she told The Times.

More from Shurat HaDin here.

(h/t Zach N)