The lawyers who stopped Gaza flotilla

By Jessica Elgot, December 15, 2011
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An Israeli lawyer who specialises in huge civil suits against terror groups such as Hamas and Hizbollah has claimed British lawyers are "timid" when it comes to "lawfare".

Jerusalem-based Nitsana Darshan-Leitner's law firm, Shurat HaDin, was instrumental in stopping the second Gaza flotilla by threatening the boat insurers that they could be charged with "aiding terrorism".

Her firm has sued Hamas, Hizbollah and the Palestinian Authority on behalf of victims of terrorism, targeting their assets in America and Europe.

No cases are pending in the UK. But on a visit to London last week, she said: "That does not mean the country is clean. It means the lawyers here don't have so much courage. There is a large Arab population. The government and the Jewish community are timid."

But a leading British barrister has claimed in fact it was UK lawyers who made the critical move in stopping the flotilla leaving Athens for Gaza in May – by urging the Greek authorities to inspect the boats' sea-worthiness.

Jonathan Turner, head of the Zionist Federation's legal group, said: "Shurat HaDin did great work, but they did not co-ordinate the response".

He said the steps taken by Shurat HaDin, to warn firms against insuring the vessels, "may have hampered our opponents, but they were still going.

"We had contacts with a top Greek lawyer to explain to the head of the Greek coastal police the grounds on which the ships could be arrested, including inspecting them for faults and evidence they were putting passengers at risk."

The Greek lawyer, whose identity Mr Turner is protecting, was "a personal friend of the family of Moshe Dayan."

Last updated: 2:09pm, December 15 2011