Court Nixes Flotilla Seizures

YERUSHALAYIM (Hamodia Staff) -
The Estelle in her home port Turku, Finland.
The Estelle in her home port Turku, Finland.

A state initiative to provide a legal basis for seizure of vessels attempting to break the Gaza blockade was rejected by a Haifa court on Sunday, The Jerusalem Post reported.

Judge Ron Sokol ruled that England’s Naval Prize Act of 1864 was too obscure for application in Israeli courts. The law, which authorizes confiscation of captured flotilla vessels and their cargo, was never used in Israel. The judge noted that Israeli maritime courts have not viewed themselves as maritime “prize courts” empowered to dispose of captured ships.

Sokol issued his decision regarding the Estelle, which sailed from Finland on May 28, 2012, with the intent of reaching Gaza but was stopped by IDF forces.

Nevertheless, Sokol acknowledged that if the Knesset would pass a new law, it was possible that aspects of England’s old prize court laws could be utilized.

As of Sunday, the Justice Ministry was still considering its options, including a possible appeal to the High Court to navigate around the ruling.