WASHINGTON (CN) - A federal judge refused to seize boats in the name of the U.S. government for a citizen who claims they were used in a Jerusalem terrorist attack in which he was injured.
Alan Bauer, a U.S. citizen and biologist living in Jerusalem, filed a federal forfeiture complaint against 13 ships in 2011, claiming that Hamas had used them to commit hostilities against Israel. Bauer said that several U.S. individuals and organizations, such as the Free Gaza Movement, raised the funds for these attacks to retaliate for Israel's maritime blockade on the Gaza Strip.
Israel had organized the blockade after Hamas seized power in 2007 and "began to carry out systemic rocket and missile attacks against civilian targets in Israel, which killed and injured a large number of civilians and caused extensive property damage," according to Bauer's complaint.
Bauer brought the suit under the more than 200-year-old Neutrality Act, a law designed to keep the United States from getting dragged into the conflict between England and France. Citing a "bounty" provision of the act that promises a financial reward to citizens who come forward with information of wrongdoing, Bauer claimed that he was entitled to one half of the proceeds that the U.S. government would get from seizing the ships.
His complaint requested that all people with interest in the boats to show cause as to why they should not forfeit the vessels and their "arms and ammunition and stores."
U.S. District Judge Rudolph Contreras concluded Friday, however, that the antiquated Neutrality Act, which has "rarely been invoked since" its inception in 1794, lacks a private cause of action.
"The court declines the plaintiff's invitation to imply one," Contreras added. "Accordingly, this case must be dismissed for the plaintiff's failure to state a claim upon which relief may be granted."
The vessels that Bauer had targeted are the Mavi Marmara, the Audacity of Hope, the Rachel Corrie, the Challenger I, the Challenger II (aka the Saoirse), the Gazze, the Tali, the Arion, the Sfendoni (Boat 8000), the Tamara (Eleftheri Mesoghios), the Seven Y Two (Irene), the Finch, the Tahrir and the Stefano Chiriani.