Israel's proposal for a special naval court to confiscate ships may be an attempt to deter future pro-Palestinian flotillas from bringing aid to Gaza. But it prompted a fresh round of debate over how far Israel can go with its naval blockade before breaching international law.
According to U.S. Navy Commander James Kraska, a professor of International Law at the Naval War College in Rhode Island and a contributor to World Politics Review, the answer is pretty far.
"Under the law of blockade, nations can seize vessels that fail to 'heave to' in order to allow for the belligerent right of visit and search," Kraska told Trend Lines earlier this week. The question of the blockade's legality, he explained, really stems from ongoing disagreements over the extent to which the conflict between Israel and Palestine can be defined as a war.