Shurat HaDin Demands that Swedish Bank SEB Cancel Mortgage and Stop Gaza Flotilla Ship Marianne of Gothenburg

Shurat HaDin Demands that Swedish Bank SEB Cancel Mortgage and Stop Gaza Flotilla Ship Marianne of Gothenburg



Israeli civil rights group says SEB violating intentional law by financing a hostile naval flotilla smuggling contraband to Hamas

TEL AVIV –  The Israeli civil rights group, Shurat HaDin-Israel Law Center,  has sent a warning letter demanding that the Swedish bank Skandinaviska Enskilda Banken (SEB) cease in providing financial services to Free Gaza and Ships to Gaza, which are helping to arrange a flotilla to breach Israel’s lawful naval  blockade of the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip.

In particular, SEB holds a maritime lien on the Marianne of Gothenburg, the lead ship in the planned Gaza flotilla.  The bank issued a mortgage to the owner of the boat, Charles Bertel Andreasson, a veteran anti-Israel provocateur who has engaged in illegal efforts against the Jewish State in the past.

In a letter to SEB’s president and group chief executive, Annika Falkengren, Shurat HaDin’s president, Nitsana Darshan-Leitner, made clear that the flotilla ship might be destroyed or confiscated by the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) and that the Stockholm-based bank is at serious risk of losing its collateral: the boat.

“Additionally, SEB may itself face legal sanction if it continues to provide financial services to Mr. Andreasson and his associates because they provide material support to Hamas, a designated terrorist organization,” Ms. Darshan-Leitner said in the letter.

In the coming days, the Marianne of Gothenburg and other ships have announced they plan to attempt to run the Israeli blockade of Gaza and enter into a battle on the seas with the IDF.

This is not [Andreasson’s] first attempt to do so,” Ms. Darshan-Leitner said in the letter.  “On May 31, 2010, a naval flotilla sponsored by persons affiliated with [him] violated Israel’s coastal blockade of the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip. The ensuing confrontation with the IDF resulted in the deaths of nine armed terrorists and serious injury to several Israeli soldiers.”

“Violation of a lawful naval blockade subjects the violating vessel to forcible seizure.  It may be lawfully attacked and potentially damaged or destroyed,” Ms. Darshan-Leitner said, citing the San Remo Manual on International Law Applicable to Armed Conflicts at Sea, 12 June 1994, para. 67.

And “Israel’s naval blockade of the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip is lawful,” she said, referencing Sir George Palmer, Report of the Secretary General’s Panel of Inquiry on the 31 May 2010 Flotilla Incident (September 2011).

“Please be therefore advised of the significant potential for SEB to lose its collateral in consequence of the mortgagor’s intended unlawful activity,” she said.

In addition, Ms. Darshan-Leitner said in the letter, “as a bank also operating in the United States, SEB is subject to American criminal law.” U.S. law prohibits U.S. entities from providing support to those who engage in hostile acts against friendly foreign nations.

“Any activity that assists or facilitates this hostile naval expedition, including the provision of financial services to it, could constitute a violation of United States criminal law,” she said.

More broadly, she said, “numerous banking and financial institutions that provided financial services and wire transfers to front-charities affiliated with terrorist organizations have been successfully sued by terror victims and their families for aiding and abetting Palestinian terrorism.”

And she pointed out in the letter that Swedish law prohibits Swedish citizens from undertaking hostile acts against one foreign power on behalf of another. “Since Sweden has recognized `the State of Palestine’ as a foreign power, persons subject to the Swedish crown may not engage in hostile acts on behalf of the de facto government of a portion of this `state’ in its conflict with Israel,” she said in the letter.

“If SEB knowingly provides financial services to Mr. Andreasson in support of his effort to violate Swedish law, SEB may face criminal and civil liability in consequence of that assistance,” she said.

“Fighting the financial side of terror is Shurat HaDin’s core effort,” Ms. Darshan-Leitner said separately. “Cash is the oxygen that keeps terrorists alive and enables them to recruit others to their barbaric causes. So cutting off fund flows chokes both terror and those who engage in it.  It is outrageous that a Swedish institution such SEB would partner with these violent extremists and participate in this hostile naval expedition against the Jewish State.

“Israel’s blockade of Gaza is legitimate under international law and the IDF has every right to utilize military force to block the Marianne and the other ships,” she said.

“The IDF will not permit weapons or other contraband to be smuggled into the Hamas controlled enclave. No one should facilitate Hamas’s efforts rearm its rocket supplies.  Hamas has enslaved the people of Gaza for several years. Hamas – not the blockade – is the reason for the Gaza Strip’s misery.”

Click here to read the letter we sent to SEB Bank.

FOR MORE INFORMATION:  Tel.  +972 (0) 3 751-4175



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