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ISRAEL

Sweden ‘anti-Semitic’ for tennis fan ban

Sweden has been accused of anti-Semitism in a leading Israeli newspaper, following the weekend's Davis Cup tennis match between Israel and Sweden, which was held behind closed doors in Malmö.

Sweden 'anti-Semitic' for tennis fan ban

In an article in the Jerusalem Post, writers Abraham Cooper and Harold Brackman say the decision not to allow spectators at the match was dictated by biases “that have echoes in Nazi Europe’s anti-Semitism.

The writers accuse politicians on Malmö Council’s sports and leisure committee for giving in to pressure from the city’s anti-Israeli Muslim minority by refusing to allow spectators into the match.

“The security card was invoked not to protect but to stigmatize Israeli athletes as pariahs,” they write, adding: “None of this is about sports. It’s about Jews.”

Malmö’s mayor, Ilmar Reepalu, said the criticism was unwarranted.

“It’s absurd. We’ve made it clear from the outset that this was about security, not about Jews. And after what happened on Saturday it is clear to everyone that a dangerous situation could have arisen if we had been forced to evacuate 4,000 people from the hall into what was going on outside, with stones being thrown at the police,” Reepalu told news agency TT.

Nine people were arrested in the disturbances outside Baltiska Hallen, where the match was being played. A 22-year-old man was detained on suspicion of attempted serious assault.

Police say that several of the masked activists who took part in the disturbances have now been identified.

ISRAEL

Israel intercepts Swedish Gaza-bound activist boat

The Israeli navy intercepted a Swedish-flagged activist boat bent on breaching its more than decade-long blockade of Gaza, the second in less than a week, the military said on Saturday.

Israel intercepts Swedish Gaza-bound activist boat
Photo: TT

“The ship was monitored and was intercepted in accordance with international law,” the military said in a statement, before the vessel, named Freedom for Gaza and carrying 12 people, was taken to the Israeli port of Ashdod.

“The (military) clarified to the ship’s passengers that they are violating the legal naval blockade and that any humanitarian merchandise can be transferred to Gaza through the Port of Ashdod,” the statement said.

The people on board were taken for “further inquiry.”

The organisers of the flotilla said the boat, which was carrying medical supplies, was intercepted in international waters.

“The demands of Ship to Gaza are that the ship with its crew and cargo will be returned to the site of the boarding, and that they will be allowed to go in peace through international and Palestinian waters in accordance to international law,” they said in a statement.

“This is a demand that the eleven years-long illegal and destructive blockade on Gaza will be lifted at last.”

Freedom was the second boat of the “Freedom Flotilla” to be intercepted en route to “break the blockade” on Gaza, organisers said.

Four boats left from Scandinavia in mid-May and stopped in some 28 ports along the way, with two remaining behind after a recent stop in the Italian port of Palermo.

On Sunday, the Israeli navy intercepted a Norwegian-flagged activist boat that was part of the flotilla.

Israel has fought three wars with Palestinian militants in Gaza since 2008 and says the blockade is necessary to keep them from obtaining weapons or materials that could be used for military purposes.

UN officials have called for the blockade to be lifted, citing deteriorating humanitarian conditions in the Palestinian enclave run by Islamist movement Hamas where 80 percent of the two million population are dependent on aid.

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