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,
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,
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
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.