Swedish pro-Gaza ship activists deported from Israel

Swedish pro-Gaza ship activists deported from Israel
2 min read
08 August, 2018
The UN and human rights groups have appealed to Israel to end the siege on Gaza, which has had a devastating impact on the two million Palestinians living there.
The Israeli navy said it intercepted the ship, Freedom for Gaza, late Friday. [Getty]

Seven Swedish activists detained by Israel's navy for attempting to breach its blockade of Gaza have been deported to Sweden, the organisers of the Ship to Gaza activist flotilla said Wednesday.

Four of the activists arrived back in the Scandinavian country on Wednesday, and the three others were expected later in the day, Ship to Gaza Sweden spokesman Dror Feiler told AFP.

The Israeli navy said it intercepted the ship, Freedom for Gaza, late Friday "in accordance with international law", and took it to the port of Ashdod.

The ship was carrying medical supplies and had a total of 12 crew and activists on board, hailing from Sweden, Spain, Canada and Germany and France. All have been deported, Feiler said.

Meanwhile, Swedish Foreign Minister Margot Wallstrom said Wednesday Israel's interception and boarding of the ship, as well as the detention of the activists and crew, violated international law.

"The (Swedish) government has been in contact with Israeli authorities about Ship to Gaza and has insisted that the actions of the Israeli authorities regarding the Swedish-flagged vessel Freedom and the people on board are not backed up by international law," Wallstrom said in a statement.

She said her government had also demanded that the ship and its cargo be released.

'Break the blockade'

Israel has defended the legality of Friday's seizure, recalling that a 2011 UN report found its naval blockade on Gaza was legal.

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 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.

The Palestinian enclave has been under siege by Israel and Egypt for 11 years in an attempt to pile pressure on the Hamas administration that runs Gaza.

The UN and human rights groups have appealed to Israel to end the siege on Gaza, which has had a devastating impact on the two million Palestinians living in the territory.

Essential goods, such as building materials and medicine, are running in extremely short supply due to the blockade.

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