An Israeli court decision to approve the blocking of humanitarian ships which aim to break the illegal siege of Gaza is a "pre-emptive attempt to legitimize Israeli piracy in international waters", activists have said.
Israeli media reported that the Jerusalem District Court issued a temporary confiscation order yesterday for two Norwegian ships which are sailing to Gaza in an effort to break the 12-year blockade of the Strip in the coming days.
The court's decision allows for the boats to be towed to an Israeli port where their value, thought to be $87,600, will be donated to Israeli "terror victims and their families as compensation".
Organisers of the flotilla say that if they succeed in reaching Gaza they will donate the ships to civilian organisations and local fishermen.
Responding to the decision, head of the International Committee for Breaking Gaza Siege and founder member of Freedom Flotilla Coalition, Zaher Birawi, said:
This decision is a dangerous precedent and a pre-emptive attempt to legitimise Israeli piracy in international waters, but this will not absolve the occupying state of its legal responsibility in the event of attacks on ships carrying peaceful activists demanding the breaking of the illegal and immoral blockade of Gaza.
"We confirm that the decision of the central court in Jerusalem will not affect the plan of the fleet of freedom alliance and the programme of the voyage of ships which plans to sail from Italy to Gaza in a few days."