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ISRAEL

Suspicious note sent to Swedish mission in Israel

An envelope containing white powder was sent to the Swedish embassy in Tel Aviv on Tuesday, according to Israeli police.

Suspicious envelopes containing a white powder and notes were sent to the US, Spanish and Swedish embassies in Tel Aviv on Tuesday, police said, adding that there were no reports of anyone hurt.

“The embassy received a letter with white powder today,” Swedish foreign ministry spokesperson Camilla Åkesson-Lindblom told The Local in Stockholm.

“The embassy is temporarily closed and all non-essential staff have been sent home.”

Åkesson-Lindblom had no comment regarding possible threats against the Swedish mission in Israel. Nor could she say how long the embassy would remain closed.

Israeli police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said police were investigating the incident, and checking to see what the powder was. However, he said none of the embassy people appeared to have been harmed.

“Three separate envelopes were sent to three different embassies — the American, Spanish and Swedish — and in each they were opened by embassy staff who found a suspicious powder” he said.

Rosenfeld provided no details on the content of the notes or who might be behind the incident.

“A suspicious envelope was found and our security is working with the local police to sort it out,” US embassy spokesman Kurt Hoyer told AFP, without providing further details.

Letters containing a white powder have been considered a potential deadly threat since five people were killed in the United States when anthrax spores were mailed to some news media offices and US senators in the weeks following the September 11, 2001 attacks.

The FBI closed its investigation following the 2008 suicide of the main suspect, a researcher at the US Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases.

Hoaxes, that became known as “white powder events,” became frequent following the anthrax attacks.

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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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