Non-International Armed Conflicts and the Gaza Blockade

In Opinio Juris, Kevin Jon Heller authored an interesting article titled, “Why is Israel’s Blockade of Gaza Legal?”  The article is well thought out and addresses many of the issues facing the legality of Israel’s actions in the Mediterranean.  Heller argues that the protections provided by article 67(a) of the San Remo Manual on International Law Applicable to Armed Conflict at Sea, which apply to countries in International Armed Conflicts, do not apply to Israel.  Heller explains that because “war” is defined as a conflict between two states by the San Remo Manual, that article 67(a) does not apply, as Gaza is not an international recognized state.

Heller is totally unpretentious, and seems to be looking for a legitimate answer to the question of whether or not Israel is involved in an International Armed Conflict, and therefore able to legally blockade Gaza.   I think that Heller’s concerns are right, but that he might be looking in the wrong place for the answer.  I think it is possible that Israel is involved in a “war,” as defined in Heller’s article as an armed conflict between two states, with Iran via Hamas.  Hamas is a satellite entity of Iran, subsidized by Iran, supported militarily and politically by Iran.  Therefore, Israel can be considered at war with Iran by virtue of Iran’s proxy state in Gaza and therefore Israel has a right to blockade.

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