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ISRAEL

Swedish dockers launch Israeli goods blockade

The Swedish Dock Workers Union (Hamnarbetarförbundet) on Wednesday launched a blockade of Israeli cargo in protest against the deadly raid on the Gaza-bound freedom flotilla last month, union representatives have confirmed.

The blockade, which also applies to Israeli ships, was launched “because of

the assault on the Ship to Gaza (flotilla), that we supported before they took

off … and the blockade of the Gaza strip, which affects the civilian population,” union spokesman Rolf Axelsson said.

The dock workers’ protest is set to take place in all unionised Swedish ports, and is scheduled to and ends at midnight on June 29th.

Union chairman Björn A. Borg added the union called for an international investigation into the May 31st raid that killed nine pro-Palestinian activists.

He told AFP the dock workers believed Israel’s easing of its Gaza blockade, announced on Sunday, was insufficient.

Eleven Swedes, including crime writer Henning Mankell, took part in the flotilla and were briefly taken into Israeli custody.

The Swedish Dock Workers Union original announced their intended blockade on June 2nd to take place from June 15th-24th but later announced an amendment to the dates in a statement dated June 11th.

representative told AFP.

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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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