An Israeli military boat on its way to the port of Ashdod in the Mediterranean Sea on Monday.
international

At Least Nine Dead as Israeli Military Boards Gaza Ships

Updated 6:50 PM

Swedish MP Mehmet Kaplan has contacted the Swedish Foreign Ministry and told the Swedish authorities that 5 of the Swedes on board the Free Gaza flotilla have now landed, unharmed. One of them is said to be Swedish author Henning Mankell, according to news agency TT. Another four Swedes have been taken to an Israeli prison in Beersheba, and officials from the Foreign Ministry are hoping to meet them on Tuesday.

The Free Gaza Movement and Israeli television report that nineteen people were killed and upwards of 60 injured after the Israeli military stormed a ship in international waters traveling with the Ship to Gaza flotilla. Eleven Swedes were onboard the international convoy of six ships heading to the Gaza Strip with a load of cement, food, schoolbooks, and other necessities, although it is still unknown if any were injured in the violence.

Sweden's Foreign Minister Carl Bildt called the action "extremely serious and unacceptable". The Foreign Ministry "immediately called up the Israeli ambassador for an explanation," telling the ambassador that it found the whole happening "unacceptable."

In a press conference held after the meeting, State Secretary for Foreign Affairs Frank Belfrage said that the Foreign Ministry demanded a statement from Israel regarding what actually occurred when the military stormed the ships. The fact that the ships were boarded in international waters is especially troubling, he said.

"It's a very serious situation," Bildt told Swedish Radio. "It will have very serious consequences, so it's important we get the facts straight."

Mikael Löfgren, a spokesperson for the Swedish involvement in the flotilla, told newspaper Svenska Dagbladet that all six ships have been boarded and all passengers taken prisoner.

Crime author Henning Mankell, Israeli-Swedish artist Dror Feiler, religion historian Mattias Gardell, and Green Party parliamentarian Mehmet Kaplan were among the Swedes traveling on the boats. Most of them are said to have been on the Greek/Swedish ship Sofia, although it has been confirmed that Gardell was on the Turkish ship Mavi Marmara on which the deadly violence erupted.

Israeli television station Arutz Esers reports that the Israeli military was attacked by people wielding knives and axes as they tried to board. The dead are said to be Turkish activists, according to initial reports, while four in the Israeli military are said to have been injured as well.

The red-green opposition parties have released a joint statement condemning Israel's actions, calling the operation "an assault on human rights."

Demonstations are being planned for all over Sweden Monday evening. So far protests are to go ahead in 15 towns across the country, according to reports.

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