Experts: Iran’s seizure of US boats likely violated international law


In separate articles, former Senior Director for Middle East Affairs at the National Security Council Michael Singh and Senior Fellow at the Hudson Institute Lee Smith have argued that Iran’s broadcasting of photos and video of sailors kneeling with their hands behind their heads, as well as the video of the American sailor apologizing, violates the Geneva Convention.  In 2007, when Iran captured British naval personnel, the former Prime Minister of the UK, Tony Blair, warned Tehran that airing footage of British navy personnel would be an unacceptable violation of the Geneva Convention. Congress has also expressed outrage over Iran’s conduct. Rep. Mike Pompeo (R-KS) has called for an investigation into whether Iran violated the Geneva Convention.  Sen. John McCain (R-AZ), Chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, asserted on Wednesday that “under international law, sovereign immune naval vessels are exempt from detention, boarding, or search. Their crews are not subject to detention or arrest.”

The Pentagon has stated that the boats entered Iranian waters as a result of a navigational error. According to the Wall Street Journal, “even if this was the case, under international maritime law, such ‘innocent passage’ should have brought an instruction to leave those waters, not a seizure and detention, according to Navy manuals citing the international standards.”

On Thursday, State Department Spokesperson John Kirby simply characterized Iran’s release of the footage as “unhelpful.” Singh emphasizes that Iran’s treatment of American sailors and its distribution of the video is “designed to embarrass the U.S.” and stands in “contrast to Washington’s recent reluctance to perturb relations with Tehran.” Singh writes that the latest incident should be viewed in the context of other aggressive Iranian behavior while Smith writes that the incident demonstrates that Iran was “sending a message—on the eve of implementing the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action—that Tehran will be calling the shots.” Indeed, Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister Seyed Abbas Araqchi boasted that Iran’s detention of US marines demonstrates Iran’s power. Ron Ben-Yishai, a veteran Israeli journalist for Israel’s widely-read Yediot Aharanot, argues that the administration’s response to the incident is concerning as it “testifies to the fact that Obama and his administration will not allow anything to get in the way of implementing the nuclear deal with Iran.”


Israel is intensifying efforts to strengthen ties with Sunni Arab states in the wake of rising regional instability following the nuclear deal with Iran, The Wall Street Journal reported(Google link) on Thursday. The Journal identified several public examples of rapprochement between Israel and Arab states, all made in an effort “to counter Iranian influence and the threat of Islamic extremism.” In November, Israel announced that it plans to open a diplomatic mission to the International Renewable Energy Agency in the United Arab Emirates. Dore Gold, the director general of Israel’s foreign ministry, met publicly with retired Saudi general Anwar Eshki in June to discuss their shared concerns about Iran’s activities across the region. While there are remaining obstacles to Israel developing full relations with Arab countries, the Journal observed that Gold is dedicated to “building better diplomatic, commercial and intelligence ties.” The recent torching of the Saudi embassy in Iran and subsequent diplomatic fallout between Riyadh’s allies and Tehran “have underlined how common ground appears to be growing.”

“We have the same understanding of the region,” said Tzipi Livni, a senior Israeli opposition politician and former foreign minister. “This is the basis for an alliance.” According to an unnamed Israeli official, there has been an “intensification” of Israel’s relationship with Arab states in the past six months. “Israel is on the same side,” the official emphasized. In addition to Israel’s growing ties with the Gulf states, the Journal reported that Israel’s links to Egypt have also been expanding. In particular, intelligence sharing between Israel and Egypt has increased as both countries work to defeat ISIS in the Sinai. (via


Street art is one of the most ascendant forms of visual expression in cities across the world. In Israel, the unofficial street-art capital is the bohemian South Tel Aviv neighborhood of Florentin. And the art galleries in this fast gentrifying area are spearheading a movement to give greater exposure to the works of prominent Israeli street artists such as Know Hope (Adam Yekutiel), Foma, Dede, Wonky Monky, Latzi, Untay (Boaz Sides), Signor Gi, jack-tml, Dioz, Maya Gelfman, Nitzan Mintz, Adi Sand, Adi Sened, Oren Fischer, Ambi, Ometz and others. “This isn’t a regular concept, because street art belongs on the street and now it has a house,” says artist Shira Gepstien Moshkovich as she shows ISRAEL21c around the new Street Art Gallery housed in a former carpenter shop off the intersection of Abarbanel and Yedidya Frenkel streets. “But it’s not a gallery like other galleries. It matches the concept of street art — it’s not a white cube like a museum gallery.” Indeed, the raw space provides an authentic context to the rotating exhibition. Commercializing an essentially anti-establishment outdoor art form runs the risk of compromising its character. (via Israel21c)

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