Sweden investigates Israel’s boarding of flotillas

NEW YORK (JTA) — Sweden commenced an investigation to determine whether Israel violated international law by boarding Gaza bound ships in 2010 and 2012.

The Ship to Gaza group along with Swedish nationals filed complaints in 2013 alleging violations of the Geneva Convention including aggravated assault, theft and illegal threats, according to the Jerusalem Post. The investigation launched on June 26.

In 2010 and 2012, Israelis boarded ships delivering humanitarian aid and carrying diplomats and civilians. The ships were attempting to pass through Israel’s blockade on Gaza.

“The organizers’ intent was violent, their method was violent, and unfortunately, the results were violent,” said Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon after Israeli commando raids on ships in May 2010.

Most of the raids passed without incident, but ten Turks were killed in the raid on one of the larger ships, the Mavi Marmara, setting of a crisis in relations between Israel and Turkey.

According to Israel, the demonstrators aboard the ship had prepared weapons and initiated the violence. Israel last year said it regretted the deaths, part of a U.S.-brokered bid to improve relations between Turkey and Israel, both regional allies of the United States.

In 2011, when an anniversary flotilla was being organized, the State Department issued a statement declaring that “groups that seek to break Israel’s maritime blockade of Gaza are taking irresponsible and provocative actions that risk the safety of their passengers.”

The statement also noted that those attempting to provide aid to Hamas, “a designated foreign terrorist organization,” could face fines and incarceration for violating U.S. law.

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