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Captured Swedes taken to Israeli airport

The seven remaining Swedes being held in Israeli custody following the capture of the Ships to Gaza flotilla have been taken to Ben Gurion airport in Tel Aviv.

Captured Swedes taken to Israeli airport

A Swedish Foreign Ministry spokesperson said that two of the captives had arrived at the airport and the others were on their way.

“The Embassy has staff on the scene to ensure that they get on their way and that they have travel documents,” spokeswoman Barbro Elm said on Wednesday afternoon.

It was not known whether the activists had booked flights back to Sweden.

Gaby Lasky, lawyer for one of the prisoners, expressed anger at the way they were released:

“They are trying to smuggle out prisoners away from their lawyers. We don’t know who is on the buses, whether it’s our clients or whether they really want to leave Israel,” she said.

Neri Ramati, another Swedish lawyer, was on Wednesday heading to the airport to try and meet Dror Feiler, one of the Swedish captives, after having being told that his client was already there. Asked whether he was worried about Feiler, he replied:

“I’m not worried, I’m angry.”

Three Swedish prisoners, author Henning Mankell, Green MP Mehmet Kaplan and Dr Victoria Strand, returned to Sweden last night.

Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt expressed relief at the return of the first Swedes:

“I hope that the information is correct and that the others also come home unharmed in the near future.”

“Their accounts reinforce what we have already said, that this is an unacceptable use of excessive violence, moreover in international waters,” he added.

Back in Sweden, Jewish communities were keeping an eye on developments:

“Security has been raised and we are in continuous contact with the police,” said Daniel Jonas at the Gothenburg synagogue.

Jonas said that no specific threats had been made against the community, although protestors outside the synagogue had carried placards with the words ‘Israel Mördare’ (‘Israel Murderer’).

I cannot comment on our threat assessment, but we are working in cooperation and are monitoring targets,” said Ulla Brehn, spokeswoman for Gothenburg police.

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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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