Lloyd's warned over risks of insurance for Hamas aid boats
May 17, 2011, The Times: An Israeli human rights group has warned Lloyd?s of
London that it may be liable for massive damages if it insures ships that
are used by suspected terrorist organisations to sail to the Gaza Strip.
The legal warning, sent to Lloyd?s and all the other main maritime insurance
companies in the world, asserted that under international law Lloyd?s would
be open to charges of aiding and abetting terrorism if it contributed in any
way to the passage of ships to Gaza, which is controlled by Hamas, an
Islamist movement designated by the United States, Israel and the European
Union as a terrorist group. Lloyd?s is the biggest insurance market in the
The announcement, issued by Shurat Din, a legal centre in Tel Aviv, came on
the day that the Israeli navy fired warning shots at a Malaysian-chartered
ship carrying sewerage pipes to Gaza from the Egyptian port of al-Arish,
forcing it to turn back. The Malaysian aid group that organised the delivery
said that the ship was a few hundred yards off the Gaza coast when the
Israeli naval vessel forced it back.
Nitsana Darshan Leitner, the founder of the Israeli law centre, said that
the point of the legal threat was to prevent a flotilla of aid ships from
approaching Gaza this month to mark the first anniversary of a raid by
Israeli naval commandos on a Turkish ferry heading for the blockaded
Nine Turkish activists, one of them a dual US citizen, were shot dead when
Israel commandos abseiled on to the Mavi Marmara as it sailed through
international waters for Gaza on May 31 last year. The troops were armed
with paintball guns and pistols, but were beaten with sticks and metal pipes
by Turkish activists when they landed one by one on the deck of the ship.
The Israeli troops opened fire, causing a huge diplomatic storm with Turkey
from which Israel has yet to recover.
Lloyd?s said that it would refuse to underwrite a vessel backed by terrorist
or related organisations on any trip that would be in breach of sanctions.
The insurance market said: ?Hamas is subject to UK and EU terrorist
financing sanctions. As such, any vessel identified as being owned or
controlled by that organisation would not be permitted to be insured by
Lloyd?s, or any other EU insurer.?
It declined to address the veiled legal threat in the letter directly.
Any shipowner planning to send vessels into Gaza would have to notify the
Lloyd?s of London market in advance, providing details of the cargo, because
Israel is designated a war risk for the purposes of providing cover.
Lloyd?s indicated that if its members had been deceived about the true
purpose of a trip the insurance cover would instantly be invalid.
Darshan Leitner, an Israeli lawyer who specialises in cases involving
victims of terrorist attacks, said: ?Before Israel gets into another mess
with the navy and the flotilla, we don?t want bloodshed on the sea again.
This is a way that the private sector can help the Government prevent
She said that under international law no link had to be established between
a specific terrorism attack and a particular ship heading into Gaza. ?That?s
the beauty of this. It doesn?t have to link directly. The law in the US and
Israel and maybe in other countries is that when it comes to terrorism, it
is very strict that anyone aiding and abetting a designated terrorist
organisation, the liability is on you for any terrorist attack that that
organisation carries out,? she told The Times.
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