The London Guardian reported that the bestselling author who created the Wallander detective series, Henning Mankell, was among the activists of the Freedom Flotilla who were attacked on the high seas by Israeli forces in the early morning hours of May 31.[1]  --  His fate is still unknown, Alison Flood said.  --  "[A]uthor Michael Mansfield told the *Guardian*:  'The main thing is that it was done in international waters, which is illegal.  And it was not a convoy carrying military personnel . . . Israel does exactly what it wants and nobody lifts a finger.  It's absolutely outrageous.'"  --  The attack occurred in the midst of a literary festival at Hay-on-Wye that is being sponsored by the Guardian, and the Israeli ambassador to the U.K. was scheduled to make an appearance there Sunday evening....




Henning Mankell

Guardian Hay festival


By Alison Flood

** Fears for safety of bestselling Swedish crime writer Henning Mankell after surprise attack results in at least 10 deaths **

Guardian (London)
May 31, 2010 -- 1425 BST [0625 PDT]

[PHOTO CAPTION: The Swedish author Henning Mankell, who was due to appear at the Hay festival by satellite link.]

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.

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.

A spokesperson for Ship to Gaza-Sweden said he had last spoken to someone on board Mankell's ship just before 5:00 a.m. Swedish time (4:00 a.m. BST).  "They were telling us then about the Israeli soldiers climbing into the neighboring ship, and they heard shooting aboard it.  I was not speaking to Henning but to one of his friends.  The Swedish ship was attacked a bit later, 10-15 minutes later.  The whole attack was done between 4-5 o'clock Swedish time," said Mikael Löfgren.

"We don't know what's happened since.  When the ships were attacked, the Israelis cut off all communications and we haven't heard from them since.  As we speak, I can see the ships coming into the harbor of Ashdod [on television] so I presume that's them," Löfgren said.  "We don't know if they're all right.  The numbers of the killed and wounded are rising all the time.  The latest information is talking about 19 deaths.  It's a really awful thing."

Mankell, creator of the Wallander detective series, was scheduled to speak at the Guardian Hay festival this weekend but was forced to pull out after the flotilla was delayed as it negotiated entry into Israeli waters.  He was set to be beamed in live from the boat for an evening appearance on Saturday evening with Ahdaf Soueif, the Egyptian novelist, and interviewer Jon Snow, but the link didn't work; festival organisers called him numerous times but failed to connect.

At Hay today, barrister and author Michael Mansfield told the Guardian:  "The main thing is that it was done in international waters, which is illegal.  And it was not a convoy carrying military personnel . . . Israel does exactly what it wants and nobody lifts a finger.  It's absolutely outrageous."

Mansfield pointed to an article in the Guardian in December by Nick Clegg in which he said that the international community has got to do something about it if Israel doesn't end the blockade.  "I'm afraid he's got to be put on the spot when Philippe Sands interviews him [at Hay].  Never mind the Iraq war -- this is far more serious."

Clegg is scheduled to speak at Hay this weekend, while Israeli ambassador in London Ron Prosor is set to appear at the festival tomorrow evening to discuss "events and the state of Anglo-Israeli relations"; festival organisers said this afternoon that the event was going ahead as planned.

Last week, Mankell told Swedish radio that he decided to take part in the aid convoy to show his solidarity towards the Palestinians.  "I think that when one talks about solidarity, one must always know that actions are what proves destiny," he said.  It is with actions that we prove we are ready to support something we believe is important."