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ISRAEL

Mankell to sail on next Gaza aid flotilla

Swedish thriller writer Henning Mankell has been confirmed as one of the participants in the next international aid flotilla seeking to bring aid to Gaza at the end of June.

Mankell to sail on next Gaza aid flotilla

Mankell, the author of the popular Wallander series of detective novels, will be among a total of 20 Swedish participants in the “Freedom Flotilla 2,” Ship to Gaza Sweden said in a statement.

“Interest in participating in the Freedom Flotilla has been enormous and we have been forced to turn down many people who wanted to show their solidarity with practical actions,” the organisers said, providing the names of eight of the Swedes scheduled to take part.

The Swedes, who also include a parliamentarian and a midwife, will be among the “thousands” of pro-Palestinian activists from around the world set to participate in the convoy, the statement said.

Mankell was one of 11 Swedes who participated in last year’s aid flotilla of six ships carrying 682 people from 42 countries that headed for Gaza despite warnings from Israel, which is blockading the Hamas-ruled Palestinian territory.

Israeli marines swarmed aboard the Turkish flagship of the flotilla bound for Gaza, killing nine Turks in international waters and plunging ties with Ankara into deep crisis.

Upon his return to Sweden after that ordeal, Mankell charged that “all the ships (in the flotilla) were hijacked, and this was really piracy.”

“What will happen next year when we come back with hundreds of boats? Will (Israel) fire a nuclear bomb?” he asked.

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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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