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Monday, June 7, 2010
ORGANIZERS OF GAZA FLOTILLA HAVE VIOLATED US NEUTRALITY ACT

For Immediate Release June 7, 2010

ORGANIZERS OF GAZA FLOTILLA HAVE VIOLATED US NEUTRALITY ACT

** * Israeli Law Center Calls on U.S. Attorney General to Investigate
American Funding of Gaza Boats ***

Shurat HaDin - Israel Law Center has written a letter to the American
Attorney General, Eric Holder, asking him to investigate whether the U.S.
Neutrality Act (18 USC 960) was violated by Left-wing organizations that
funded the Gaza flotilla. The letter also asks for an investigation of
whether the Free Gaza Movement (FGM) which organized the illegal boat
expedition was involved in money laundering and efforts to defraud the
Internal Revenue Service. Nine Turkish militants aboard the boats were
killed and numerous Israeli soldiers were seriously injured when efforts by
the ships to run the Israeli imposed blockade on the Gaza Strip turned
violent.

The U.S. Neutrality Act provides that:

"Whoever, within the United States, knowingly begins or sets on foot or
provides or prepares a means for or furnishes the money for, or takes part
in,
any military or naval expedition or enterprise to be carried on from thence
against the territory or dominion of any foreign prince or state, or
of any colony, district, or people with whom the United States is at peace,
shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than three years, or
both."

The Shurat HaDin letter notes that the Israeli blockade of the Gaza Strip
is lawful under international law and recognized as such by the U.S.
government. In addition, pursuant to the Oslo Accords signed by both Israel
and the PLO, the Gaza coastline is under strict control of Israel until a
Palestinian state is created. Efforts by the FGM to organize a boat
flotilla to provoke the Israeli navy and to attempt to run the blockade and
smuggle weapons and supplies to the Hamas controlled entity in Gaza
jeopardizes Israeli security. It is illegal for anyone in the U.S. to raise
funds there for a naval expedition aimed at running the blockade of an
American ally. The FGM's plan to smuggle weapons and supplies is a direct
violation of the U.S. Neutrality Act.

The FGM, which had organized an earlier Gaza flotilla in 2008, raises funds
in the U.S. via its website: www.freegaza.org although it remains formally
unorganized there. The website explains that the FGM does not have tax-free
status in the U.S. and therefore relies upon another anti-Israel
organization, the American Educational Alliance, which issues tax receipts
on its behalf.

The Shurat HaDin letter calls on the Attorney General to further investigate
whether this arrangement by the Washington, DC based American Educational
Trust to issue tax receipts for a radical, pro-Hamas group FGM constitutes
money laundering and fraud against the IRS.

(A copy of the letter is posted below)

FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT SHURAT HADIN:

Email; info@israellawcenter.org

Tel (Israel) +972-(0)3-7514175, Tel (US) 212-591-0073

THE SHURAT HADIN LETTER TO U.S. ATTORNEY GENERAL ERIC HOLDER:

June 7, 2010

Attorney General Eric Holder
U.S. Department of Justice
950 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20530-0001
Sent Via Fax: (202) 307-6777

Re: Violation of the U.S. Neutrality Act, 18 U.S.C. 960, by Free Gaza
Movement

Dear Attorney General Holder,

As you are no doubt aware, this past week a boat flotilla organized by
anti-Israeli NGOs and Islamic terrorists set out to provoke the Israel
Defense Forces and to violate Israel's military blockade of the Hamas
controlled Gaza Strip. The flotilla's efforts resulted in the deaths of 9
armed militants and the serious injuring of numerous Israeli soldiers.

I am writing to bring to your attention to a serious matter regarding the
flotilla and what might have been a violation of the U.S. Neutrality Act,
18 U.S.C. 960, regulations of the Internal Revenue Service and an attempt
to aid & abet the Hamas terrorist organization, which has occurred within
the United States.

The radical pro-Hamas organization, the Free Gaza Movement ("FGM"), has been
raising funds for its extremist activities within the United States. The
FGM was one of the driving forces behind past efforts to organize a flotilla
to Gaza in 2008, and its members raised funds in the U.S. and directed the
current Gaza flotilla campaign from Cyprus. These activities would appear
to be a violation of the U.S. Neutrality Act, which provides:

"Whoever, within the United States, knowingly begins or sets on foot or
provides or prepares a means for or furnishes the money for, or takes part
in, any military or naval expedition or enterprise to be carried on from
any thence against the territory or dominion of any foreign prince or
state, or of any colony, district, or people with whom the United States is
at peace, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than three
years, or both."

This past week U.S. Vice- President Joseph Biden declared that the Israeli
blockade of the Gaza Strip is lawful and pursuant to international law. The
blockade was established in June 2007, after terrorist from the Hamas
organization violently took control of the territory and ousted the members
of the Palestinian Authority security services. Since that time, Hamas has
engaged in a relentless campaign to obtain weapons and explosives and to
terrorize Israel's civilian population. In an effort to prevent Hamas from
obtaining any additional military equipment and to impose economic pressure
on the Hamas leadership in Gaza, the Israeli Security Cabinet imposed a
series of sanctions on the Gaza Strip including a coastal blockade that is
being implemented by the Israeli navy. The naval blockade is particularly
important in light of previous attempts by the Iranian government to
transfer weapons to Palestinian militants at sea such as occurred in January
2002 when the Israeli navy seized the "Karine A" ship that was loaded with
50 tons of Iranian supplied weaponry.

Moreover, there are several provisions within the agreements signed by
Israel and the Palestinian Authority that grant Israel the right to
implement a naval blockade on the Gaza Strip. Specifically, the September
28, 1995 Israeli-Palestinian Interim Agreement on the West Bank and the Gaza
Strip which was signed in Washington D.C., which provides that Israel has
"the responsibility for defense against external threats, including for
defense against external threats from the sea and from the air." In
addition, it was agreed that that foreign vessels would "not approach closer
than 12 nautical miles from the coast" unless specifically authorized by
Israel. As such, the Israeli blockade on Gaza is lawful and the waters
outside of Gaza are legally controlled by Israel.

The FGM has a website at: www.freegaza.org . Those who wish to support the
FGM'ts activities, including the organizing and outfitting of the boat
flotilla which attempted to engage the Israeli navy and run the Gaza
blockade, are asked to donate to the FGM. As the FGM website plainly
explains
( http://www.freegaza.org/en/usa-donations ), however, that since the FGM
does not "currently have 501(c)3 status" donations to the group will be
channelled through the American Educational Trust, the publishers of the
Washington Report on Middle East Affairs, who "have generously agreed to
serve as our fiscal sponsor in the United States. Through the American
Educational Trust you can make U.S. tax-deductible donations to us either
with PayPal or by check."
Potential donors are informed that if they "would like to make a U.S.
tax-deductible donation to the Free Gaza Movement by check, please make out
the check to: "American Educational Trust LE" and write "Free Gaza" in the
memo section . . ."

In addition to organizing boat flotilla's that contain weapons and supplies
the Israeli government has deemed harmful to its security and which it seeks
to smuggle into Gaza which would constitute a violation of the Neutrality
Act, it is hard to believe that the IRS would authorize an outlaw
organization like the FGM, which does not appear to be incorporated nor have
tax-free status in the United States to have another organization like the
American Educational Trust issue tax receipt to donors on its behalf. This
is a clear case of money laundering by the FGM and the American Educational
Trust and an effort to defraud the regulations of the IRS. It is both the
FGM and the American Educational Trust, as well as its donors, who are
knowingly engaging in this fraud on the IRS.

Nevertheless, despite the clear unequivocal policy of the United States to
support Israel's right to control the security of the territorial waters
around Gaza and to isolate Hamas from external support, the FGM and the
American Educational Trust are attempting to undermine the foreign policy of
both the United States and Israel, and attempting to aid and abet the Hamas
terrorist organization, by raising money to smuggle in weapons and supplies
in direct violation of the Interim Agreement regarding foreign vessels and
to undermine Israel's sovereign authority.

The FGM and the American Educational Trust has openly soliciting financial
support in the United States for its hostile expedition against a friendly
nation in violation of the U.S. Neutrality Act. As such, the actions of
the FGM and the American Educational Trust are nothing short of an attempt
to violate the laws of State
of Israel and to engage in conduct that has the effect of undermining the
national security of a U.S. ally.

Consequently, I respectfully request that your office take all necessary and
appropriate actions to uphold the laws of the United States, to investigate
those that are organizing the flotilla, money laundering and funding this
illegal effort and to enjoin any unlawful activity on the part of the FGM
and the American Educational Trust.

Thank you,

Nitsana Darshan-Leitner, Esq.

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