Will Israel drop an atom bomb?: Mankell

Swedish author Henning Mankell is one of a trio of activists which have arrived back in Sweden after being released by Israel following their participation in the Gaza-bound flotilla attacked by Israeli commandos.

Will Israel drop an atom bomb?: Mankell

Mankell arrived in Sweden late Tuesday together with Green Party member Mehmet Kaplan and senior physician Victoria Strand.

“What will happen next year when we come back with hundreds of boats? Will

they drop an atom bomb,” the renowned author of the Wallander crime series said when he returned to Gothenburg airport on Tuesday night.

Mankell expressed concern over the Swedes remaining in Israel.

“We are worried about our friends who are still in jail,” the renowned author of the Wallander detective series told the Expressen tabloid onboard the flight to Sweden.

Sweden’s foreign ministry has said that four of the 11 Swedes who had been travelling with the flotilla when it was attacked early Monday – leaving nine

activists dead and scores injured – had been permitted to leave Israel.

Kaplan and Strand met the assembled media when they arrived at Stockholm Arlanda Airport. Strand said that it took eleven hours for the Israelis to tow the boat on which they were travelling, the Sofia, into Ashdod harbour. During this time the activists were guarded by masked soldiers.

The quay was lined with hundreds of soldiers past which the activists were forced to walk passed. They were then dispersed to various “stations”.

“The Israelis did all they could to humiliate us… They wanted to scare us into obedience,” Strand said.

According to Strand the activists were accused of illegally encroaching on an Israeli military zone.

“Then I replied that “you detained us 79 nautical miles off the coast of Gaza and you do not have any right to a military zone there'”.

Under protest Strand decided to sign a document where she agreed to immediate deportation.

Mehmet Kaplan told how the Israeli commandos boarded the boat from both sides.

“It was if we had been attacked by pirates. When they approached our boat they got onboard via grappling hooks on on both sides. We retreated up to the bridge and engine room to protect them but the soldiers, who bore balaclavas, used stun guns against several people on the boat,” he said.

Kaplan underlined that nobody that he travelled with, neither the crew nor the activists, offered any resistance.

“We had undertaken anti-violence training and we retreated the while time as they advance, fully equipped,” he said.

Kaplan only first found out that activists had died at the hands of Israeli commandos on Tuesday. He reserved warm praise for the foreign ministry and the Swedish embassy in Tel Aviv.

“Without their help we would perhaps still be there. It is a lifeline for those who remain,” he said.

Henning Mankell completed his journey in Gothenburg and on arrival at Landvetter airport he told the Expressen daily that he had not regrets over his participation, but elected to reserve further comment until later.

“For the simple reason that some of our friends remain in custody in Israel,” he said.

The Israeli government said on Tuesday that it plans to release all of the foreigners who were involved in the Gaza-bound flotilla. Hundreds were expelled on Wednesday.

The six ships in the Freedom Flotilla, carrying more than 700 passengers, were on a mission to deliver some 10,000 tonnes of supplies to Gaza, which has been under a

crippling Israeli blockade since 2007.

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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.