At least 10 pro-Palestinian activists were killed and dozens were wounded aboard an aid flotilla bound for the Gaza Strip when Israeli naval commandos seized control of the boats early Monday, the Israeli army said.The Associated Press notes that this pre-dawn violence has “set off worldwide condemnation and a diplomatic crisis.”
Some Israeli, Turkish and Arab media outlets put the death toll as high as 20 activists. The wounded were evacuated to Israeli hospitals and the ships were being led into Israel’s Ashdod port, where the passengers and aid supplies are to be unloaded and screened. More than four naval personnel were also injured. ...
Some in Israel, before the raid and after, questioned the wisdom of Israel trying to take the ships by force. Past flotillas either reached Gaza or were diverted to Israel peacefully.
In a follow-up, Britain’s Guardian newspaper reported:
The bestselling Swedish author Henning Mankell was on board a convoy of Gaza-bound aid boats stormed by Israeli forces today, resulting in the deaths of at least 10 activists and injuries to dozens of others. With the ships out of communication since the attack early this morning, it is not yet known whether he is among the injured.We will bring you more on this matter as we hear it.
Mankell had decided to join the aid-delivering flotilla--also believed to include Nobel peace laureate Mairead Corrigan-Maguire--in a gesture of solidarity towards Palestinians currently living under the Israeli blockade. The Free Gaza Movement and a coalition of activist groups have been attempting to circumvent import restrictions imposed by the country since 2008.
UPDATE: According to The Swedish Wire, an online news service:
Famous Swedish crime author Henning Mankell was not hurt when Israeli commandos attacked the Gaza-bound aid flotilla [with which] he was traveling Monday, Sweden’s foreign ministry said, countering a rumour the writer had been shot.The full report is here.
“Our embassy there has spoken with Mehmet Kaplan (a Swedish parliamentarian participating in the flotilla), who said he and four other Swedes had managed to get to land,” ministry spokeswoman Ingrid Palmklint told AFP, adding that Mankell was among them.
READ MORE: “Henning Mankell: When a Crime Writer Becomes Part of the Story,” by Christopher G. Moore (International Crime Authors