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PEACE ACTION letter calling for investigation of
Israel's Attack on Freedom Flotilla

PEACE ACTION letter calling for investigation of Israel's Attack on Freedom Flotilla humanitarian aid ships to Gaza. More of PEACE ACTION's response after letter to Sec.of State Hillary Clinton.

contact the American State Department at Telephone No. (202) 647-4000 (24-hour number) or publicaffairs@panet.us.state.gov

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton

U.S. Department of State
2201 C Street NW
Washington, DC 20520

June X, 2010

Dear Secretary of State Clinton,

We are writing to request that the State Department investigate whether Israel violated the Arms Export Control Act, which strictly limits the use of U.S. weapons to “internal security” or “legitimate self-defense,” by attacking the Gaza Freedom Flotilla on May 31, 2010.

Israel's attack—in international waters—on the Gaza Freedom Flotilla, which was composed of six ships attempting to deliver 10,000 tons of humanitarian aid to the blockaded Palestinian Gaza Strip, resulted in the deaths of at least nine humanitarian activists, with dozens more injured. More than 600 activists were taken against their will to Israel for detention and/or deportation. We are particularly concerned about reports that in the course of its attack on the flotilla, Israel may have beaten two U.S. citizens: Huwaida Arraf, Esquire, of Washington, D.C., and Dr. Paul Larudee, of El Cerrito, California.

Given these circumstances, we are asking the State Department to determine whether Israel's act of aggression on the high seas against the Gaza Freedom Flotilla constituted “internal security” or “legitimate self-defense” according to the terms of usage for U.S. weapons as defined in the Arms Export Control Act.

We are particularly concerned and request you to investigate whether Israel's attack on the Gaza Freedom Flotilla violated international law generally and the UN Convention on the Laws of the Seas specifically. This convention, considered to be customary international law, provides for a general right of freedom of navigation on international waters. Article 88 of the convention states: “The high seas shall be reserved for peaceful purposes.” Article 89 states: “No State may validly purport to subject any part of the high seas to its sovereignty.”

The United States has provided the Israeli navy and air force with weapons through Foreign Military Financing (FMF) budget allocations that were, or may have been used, in this attack on the Gaza Freedom Flotilla. According to the Jerusalem Post , the Israel Air Force used three Sikorsky UH-60 Black Hawk helicopters to transport its commandos to the ships. The Israel Air Force is reported to have 49 of these combat helicopters.

In addition, the United States has transferred additional weapons to the Israeli Navy that may have been used in violation of the Arms Export Control Act during its attack on the Gaza Freedom Flotilla. In July 2008, the Defense Security Cooperation Agency (DCSA) notified Congress of a possible Foreign Military Sale (FMS) to Israel of four littoral combat ships (LCS-I variant), associated equipment, and services valued at up to $1.9 billion. The Israeli Navy is also reported to have three Sa'ar 5-class corvettes built in the United States.

In addition, press reports indicate that Israel may have used U.S. guns, ammunition, night vision goggles, and crowd dispersal weapons in its attack on the Gaza Freedom Flotilla.

Once again, we request the State Department to investigate whether Israel's attack upon the Gaza Freedom Flotilla violated the Arms Export Control Act, and which U.S. weapons Israel may have been misused in this attack.

As a country that values the rule of law, we have an obligation to ensure that the United States applies and enforces its laws on an equal basis. This holds true even more so in the case of our friends who purport to share common values of democracy and human rights with the United States. In this regard, Israel's actions must conform to the same standards that we expect from any other country receiving U.S. weapons under the terms of the Arms Export Control Act. To exempt Israel's actions from this investigatory process required by the law would be to hold our ally Israel to an unfair standard and single it out for special treatment.

This request for a Department of State investigation into Israel's possible violation of the Arms Export Control Act during its attack upon the Gaza Freedom Flotilla should take place in conjunction with, and not serve as a replacement for, the Obama Administration's support within the UN Security Council for a “prompt, impartial, credible and transparent investigation conforming to international standards” of Israel's attack on the Gaza Freedom Flotilla.

We look forward to a prompt response to our request for an investigation.

[Your name] PEACE ACTION

http://endtheoccupation.org/article.php?id=2652 PEACE ACTION's Campaign to End The Israeli Occupation

Take Action

1. Organize an emergency protest against Israel's attack on the humanitarian flotilla.  Find events near you and post your event details by clicking here .

2. Contact President Obama at 202-456-1111 or send him an email by clicking here . Ask him to:

* Condemn Israel's attack against the Gaza Freedom Flotilla and support an international investigation of it.

* Find Israel in violation of the Arms Export Control Act and immediately end all military aid to Israel.

* Pressure Israel to end its illegal blockade of the occupied Palestinian Gaza Strip.

* End U.S. support for Israel's illegal 43-year occupation of the Palestinian West Bank, East Jerusalem, and Gaza Strip.

3. Request an emergency meeting with your Members of Congress during this week's Memorial Day recess.  Many Members of Congress are in their home districts this week to meet with constituents.  You can also send them a message by clicking here

To download a template letter you can give to your Member of Congress asking him/her to have the State Department investigate whether Israel violated the Arms Export Control Act by attacking the Gaza Freedom Flotilla, please click here: http://www.endtheoccupation.org/downloads/gazafreedomflotilla_dearcolleageletter.doc

4. Get the story out to the media.  Use our talking points below, and for tips on how to engage in media activism, please click here

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* The Gaza Freedom Flotilla boats were attacked by the Israeli military in international waters, a clear violation of international law. The Israeli military killed civilians in international water, arguably a war crime.

* So far there has been a complete media blackout of the flotilla members. Why aren't we hearing from those who have been attacked? Why aren't media outlets making a bigger deal about Israel denying them access to those who have been arrested?

* The ships were boarded by an elite commando unit of the Israeli military, armed with heavy automatic weapons. Israel must be held responsible for this use of disproportionate force and for recklessly endangering the lives of all civilians onboard.

* The Gaza Freedom Flotilla was attempting to break Israel 's illegal and immoral siege of the 1.5 million Palestinians of the Gaza Strip. These Palestinians have been denied rebuilding materials after Israel 's December 2008-January 2009 assault on the Gaza Strip, codenamed “Operation Cast Lead.” In addition to killing more than 1400 Palestinians, Operation Cast Lead caused $2 billion in infrastructural damage, but Israel has consistently refused to allow rebuilding materials into the Gaza Strip. High-end medical supplies, as well as a revolving list of items that has included pasta, jam, and cardamom, have also been denied.

* This act of piracy in international waters, which has reportedly resulted in the deaths of as many as 19 activists, the wounding of 50-80, and the abduction of the Freedom Flotilla ships, is aided and abetted by U.S. military aid to Israel.  In July 2008, the United States signed a contract worth $1.9 billion to transfer the latest-generation of naval combat vessels to Israel at U.S. taxpayer expense.  Currently, Congress is in the process of appropriating a record $3.2 billion in military aid to Israel this budget year.