- The Washington Times - Thursday, January 13, 2011

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

Ben Birnbaum writes that Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan demands that Israel apologize to Turkey after the incident with the Turkish-led Gaza-bound flotilla. (“Israel, Turkey still at odds over flotilla-clash apology,” Page 1, Wednesday).

Mr. Erdogan must know that the June 1994 San Remo manual on international law applicable to armed conflicts at sea clearly states that neutral merchant vessels may not be attacked in international waters unless they are breaching a blockade and after prior warning, they intentionally and clearly refuse to stop or intentionally and clearly resist visit, search or capture.

It is important to keep in mind that the Israeli navy took over five ships of the flotilla on which the activists protested peacefully and nobody was hurt. But some of the passengers on the sixth ship mounted a violent resistance. They had bats, iron bars and knives. They assaulted every soldier as he slid down from the helicopter. The soldiers were under orders to not use their handguns unless their lives were in danger. Seven were wounded. Only then did they use their handguns and respond to the violent attack upon them.

The unfortunate loss of life was a direct result of the violence used by the extremists on the ship. The Turkish ship was breaching the blockade and refused to stop. According to international law, Israel had the right to stop it. Nobody would have been hurt had the passengers obeyed the law.

JACOB AMIR

Jerusalem, Israel

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