The Gaza flotilla incident and the modern law of blockade
Host item entries:
Naval war college review, Vol. 66, no. 3, Summer 2013, p. 81-98
Three years on, the Mavi Marmara incident (in May 2010 the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) boarded a flotilla of ships attempting to breach a blockade in the Mediterranean Sea) remains a valuable case study, because it raises legal issues on several levels. At the grand strategic, when will the international community tolerate the imposition of a blockade, and when will states accept consequent interference with the navigational rights of vessels flying their flags? At the operational, how far from the blockaded coast should the naval commander be prepared to enforce the blockade? At the tactical, what level of force is acceptable for the individual members of a blockade-enforcement boarding party to use? This article considers the incident anew and use it to establish some principles that might guide maritime doctrine on the future establishment and enforcement of blockades.