NYT disputes Israel's right to blockade

In the June 6 edition of the New York Times, Jerusalem bureau chief Ethan Bronner writes the following:  "Israel has been widely condemned for its blockade, which some experts in international law say is illegal."

Bronner's glib assertion about the alleged illegality of Israel's blockade is based on what?  On the word of some anonymous "experts."

It would have been more responsible to identify one or more of these "experts" and to let Times readers know that many other experts on international law are of exactly the opposite opinion.

To name just one prominent expert:  Leslie Gelb, a former columnist of the New York Times and president emeritus of the Council on Foreign Relations.

He and others with sterling credentials on maritime law point out that Israel is on perfectly legal self-defense grounds to impose a naval blockade on the high seas to prevent arms shipments to the Hamas regime in Gaza, which is engaged in active aggression against the Jewish state by way of rocket and mortar fire against its civilian populations.

Bronner also might have consulted U.S. and UK military manuals that define a nation's right to impose a blockade in international waters when it faces a belligerent enemy.  Israel's blockade conforms with blockade parameters in these manuals.

Historically, there also are ample precedents for Israel's blockade.  During World War II, the United States and Britain imposed naval blockades on the high seas against Germany.

During the Cuban missile crisis, the United States quarantined Cuba with a naval blocakde to prevent additional Soviet nuclear missiles from reaching the island. And it's interesting to note that President Kennedy imposed the blockade without a shot or a missile having been fired against U.S. territory.  He did it merely on the basis of the possible threat posed by nuclear missiles on Cuban soil.  Israel imposed its blockade not merely because it feared attacks from Gaza, but because it actually has borne the brunt of some 10,000 missiles that have been fired from Gaza against civilians in southern Israel.

If President  Kennedy was right to impose a blockade on Cuba -- and he was -- so is Israel, in spades.

When Bronner next writes about Israel's blockade, he ought to give Times readers a more accurate and better informed account of its legality.
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