Boat sails from Sweden to break Gaza blockade

A trawler left Sweden on its way to break Israel’s naval blockade of the Gaza Strip 5,000 nautical miles away.

The Marianne of Gothenburg departed on May 10 and is the first ship in the Freedom Flotilla III to leave for Gaza, according to the Ship to Gaza Sweden campaign website.

The boat, which was purchased jointly by the Ship to Gaza Sweden and Ship to Gaza Norway, is carrying solar panels and medical equipment, according to Ship to Gaza Sweden, along with five crew members and eight passengers.

The Ship to Gaza organization is calling for an immediate end to the naval blockade of Gaza; opening of the Gaza Port; and secure passage for Palestinians between the West Bank and the Gaza Strip.

Sweden recognized the state of Palestine in October.

Among the passengers are Israeli-born Swedish citizen Dror Feiler, a musician and spokesman of Ship to Gaza; Dr. Henry Ascher, a professor of public health and a pediatrician; and Lennart Berggren, a filmmaker.

The Freedom Flotilla’s first attempt to break the blockade ended in the deaths of nine Turkish activists on May 31, 2010 after Israeli navy commandos boarded the Mavi Marmara, which claimed to be carrying humanitarian aid. The Israeli navy had warned the ship not to sail into waters near the Gaza Strip. A second attempt was turned back in October 2012. — jta