Mankell’s bag returned – with women’s clothes

Swedish novelist Henning Mankell has had his bag returned to him by Israeli authorities after it was seized when troops raided the Ship to Gaza convoy on which he was travelling. But most of his possessions are missing from the bag, and have been replaced with women’s clothes.

Mankell's bag returned - with women's clothes
Mankell addresses news conference at Volksbühne theatre in Berlin, June 3rd

Mankell was informed by Turkish Airlines on Thursday that his bag was ready to be collected from Gothenburg Landvetter Airport. When he opened it, in the presence of witnesses, it was filled with women’s clothes.

The only possessions of Mankell’s that remained were a hat and a wallet containing money and his driving licence. His mobile phone, stereo, notebook and his script for a television series about his father-in-law, Ingmar Bergman, were missing.

Mankell says he plans to write a letter to Israel’s ambassador to Sweden about the incident:

“I want to know where the rest of my belongings are and why they have sent me women’s clothes,” he told Svenska Dagbladet.

The Ship to Gaza convoy, a self-proclaimed humanitarian aid project that attempted to break the Israeli blockade of Gaza, was raided by Israeli soldiers in early June. Up to 16 people were killed in the action, with many others being imprisoned by the Israelis.

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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.