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Israel's Flotilla Raid Revives Questions Of International Law

Publication Date: 
June 01, 2010
The Washington Post
Colum Lynch

Allen Weiner, co-director of Stanford's Program in International and Comparative Law, is quoted on the legality of Israel's raid on an aid flotilla on its way to Gaza. Colum Lynch of The Washington Post reports:

In the two days following its commando raid on an aid flotilla to the Gaza Strip, Israel has been accused by Turkey and several other governments of behaving like an outlaw state, and engaging in acts of piracy and banditry on the high seas.

But has Israel broken any laws?

International law experts differ over the legality of the Israel action, with some asserting that the raid constituted a clear cut violation of the Law of the Sea, while others maintain that Israel can board foreign vessels in international waters as part of a naval blockade in a time of armed conflict. But scholars on both sides of the debate agree that Israel is required by law to respond with the proportional use of force in the face of violent resistance.


"The Israeli blockade itself against Gaza itself is not illegal, and it's okay for Israeli ships to operate in international waters to enforce it," said Allen Weiner, former State Department lawyer and legal counselor at the American Embassy in the Hague, and now a professor at Stanford Law School. Beyond that, he said, Israel has a legal obligation to allow humanitarian goods into Gaza and to exercise proportionality in the use of force.