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Swedish activist defies Israel warning in Gaza

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El-Wafa Rehabilitation hospital. Photo: Manu Pineda
09:53 CEST+02:00
A young Swedish man is among the group of international activists refusing to leave a Gaza hospital despite warnings from the Israeli military.
The hospital Al-Wafa, located in Eastern Gaza, is widely reported to have received warnings from the Israeli military late Tuesday night including an order to evacuate the buildings by 8am local time, leaving the occupants nine hours to clear the area.
 
"Just now they called back and told us to leave the building immediately," Swedish activist Fred Ekblad told the Dagens Nyheter daily (DN) in an interview that took place mere minutes after the time limit had run out.
 
"It's possible, likely even, that the Israelis don't want to attack the building. But it could be that they want to use it in a potential ground operation."
 
According to the International Solidarity Movement (ISM), the organization which the international activists represent, five warning missiles struck the hospital on July 11th and leaflets were dropped into the area urging the occupants to evacuate.
 
However, ISM issued a press release stating that they had been in contact with the Israeli military and had been told that evacuation would not be necessary since they did not intend to destroy the hospital buildings.
 
Meanwhile Swedish Foreign Minister Carl Bildt issued a statement regarding the failed cease-fire between Hamas and Israel, saying the question will be at the top of the list next week when the EU foreign ministers gather in Brussels.
 
Bildt also claimed the reason the cease-fire failed was mainly because Hamas refused to take part in it.
 
"Neither Hamas nor Israel can achieve their goals using military means alone," he said via his blog.
 
"Escalation won't change anything in this case. Therefore I'm hoping they can find a way to put down their weapons and resume the peace negotiations."

Story continues below…

 
When asked if he was worried about an Israeli air strike, Swedish activist Fred Ekblad explained that normally his international status would protect him.
 
"But this isn't a normal situation," he told DN. "Of course we're worried."

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