The Contemporary Law of Blockade and the Gaza Freedom Flotilla

  • Andrew SangerEmail author
Part of the Yearbook of International Humanitarian Law book series (YIHL, volume 13)


In the early hours of 31 May 2010, Israel intercepted six vessels on the high seas carrying humanitarian aid to Gaza, prompting a highly contentious debate over the legality of the interception and the blockade on Gaza. This paper examines the blockade and interception from the perspective of international law, and in doing so, it explores three pivotal sets of questions: (1) can Israel invoke a prima facie right to blockade Gaza? What is the legal basis for this right? What effect, if any, does the characterisation of the Israeli-Hamas conflict have? (2) If Israel does have a prima facie right to blockade Gaza, is the blockade legally constituted and maintained? What factors must be taken into consideration? Finally (3) can Israel lawfully intercept vessels on the high seas without permission of the flag-state? In what circumstances, and under what conditions, can Israel undertake such an operation? Did Israel act lawfully when it intercepted the Gaza Freedom Flotilla vessels?


Maritime warfare Blockades Interception Non-State actors Gaza Israeli-Hamas conflict Characterising conflicts Starvation as a method of warfare 


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Copyright information

© Stichting T.M.C. Asser Instituut, The Hague, and the authors 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of CambridgeLondonUK

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