Position paper on the naval blockade on Gaza

08/09/2010 | Source: International Law Department
Position Paper on the Legal Aspects Relating to the Imposition of a Naval Blockade on the Gaza Strip and its Enforcement Provided by the IDF Military Advocate General to the Public Committee Investigating the Naval Incident of the 31st of May 2010


Attached is the position paper prepared by the Military Advocate General on the legal aspects related to the imposition of the naval blockade on the Gaza Strip and its enforcement, submitted to the Public Committee investigating the naval incident of 31 May 2010. The paper is currently available in Hebrew only. An English translation will be published in the coming days.


The paper is divided into three parts. The first part reviews the factual and legal aspects relating to IDF activity in the Gaza Strip since June 1967 (the Six Days War, during which Israel took control over the area), until present day. In this regard, it presents the principal "milestones" in the history of the Gaza Strip throughout this period, as a factual basis for analyzing the normative framework applicable to IDF's operational activity in Gaza nowadays, composed primarily of the Laws of Armed Conflict. Under this normative framework, the paper explains the legal basis for the economic restrictions imposed by Israel on Gaza, especially since Hamas' violent coup carried out during June 2007, and distinguishes it from the security measures applied on the maritime zone adjacent to the Gaza Strip (including the naval blockade).


Based on the normative framework laid down in the first part of the paper, the second part focuses on the legal aspects of IDF’s operations in the maritime zone adjacent to the Gaza Strip.  The paper outlines the security threats emanating from this area and presents the various legal tools available to the IDF, under the Law of Naval Warfare, for the purpose of coping with them. The inability of these tools to provide an adequate response to the security needs of Israel, has led to the decision to place a naval blockade on the Gaza Strip.


Finally, the third part concentrates on the conditions for placing the naval blockade in accordance with the Law of Naval Warfare and on their fulfillment in our matter.  It also provides a brief overview of the main legal issues that arose in the course of the preparations for enforcing the naval blockade on the flotilla, before the incident of the 31st of May 2010.