Date: 5 July 2010
This document was drafted in order to provide assistance to those wishing to understand the international legal position relating to Israel’s blockade of the Gaza Strip, and the recent attack on the Free Gaza Movement Flotilla, as well as to ships that are sent to the Gaza Strip in the future.
Is Israel entitled to intercept and board ships in international waters?
All ships sailing in the high seas come under the international law principle of exclusive flag jurisdiction, which states that vessels on the high seas are subject to no authority except that of the State whose flag they fly”. The basic position is that unless an exception applies, Israel has no right to intercept or board ships flying the flag of another State in the high seas.