Henning Mankell ‘s Flotilla Raid Diary: ‘A Man Is Shot. I Am Seeing It Happen’

Henning Mankell , the prize-winning writer and creator of Wallander was among those on board the Gaza flotilla. He shares his private diary of the events leading to his capture, for the Guardian:

Tuesday 25 May, Nice

It is five o’clock in the morning and I’m standing in the street waiting for the taxi that will take me to the airport in Nice. It’s the first time in ages E and I have had some time off together. Initially we thought we’d be able to stretch it to two weeks. It turned out to be five days. Ship to Gaza finally seems to be ready to set off and I’m to travel to Cyprus to join it, as arranged.

As instructed, I’ve limited my luggage to a rucksack weighing no more than 10 kilos. Ship to Gaza has a clearly defined goal: to break Israel’s illegal blockade. After the war a year ago, life has become more and more unbearable for the Palestinians who live in Gaza. There is a huge shortage of the bare necessities for living any sort of decent life.

But the aim of the voyage is of course more explicit. Deeds, not words, I think. It’s easy to say you support or defend or oppose this, that and the other. But only action can provide proof of your words.

The Palestinians who have been forced by the Israelis to live in this misery need to know that they are not alone, not forgotten. The world has to be reminded of their existence. And we can do that by loading some ships with what they need most of all: medicines, desalination plants for drinking water, cement.

The taxi arrives, we agree a price – extortionate! – and drive to the airport through empty, early morning streets. It comes to me now that I made my first note, there in the taxi. I don’t remember the exact words, but I’m suddenly disconcerted by a sense of not quite having managed to register that this is a project so hated by the Israelis that they might try to stop the convoy by violent means.

By the time I get to the airport, the thought has gone. On this point, too, the project is very clearly defined. We are to use non-violent tactics; there are no weapons, no intention of physical confrontation. If we’re stopped, it ought to happen in a way that doesn’t put our lives at risk.

Wednesday 26 May, Nicosia

It’s warmer than in Nice. Those who are to board the ships somewhere off the coast of Cyprus are gathering at Hotel Centrum in Nicosia. It’s like being in an old Graham Greene novel. A collection of odd people assembling in some godforsaken place to set off on a journey together. We’re going to break an illegal blockade. The words are repeated in a variety of languages. But suddenly there’s a great sense of uncertainty.

The ships are late, various problems have arisen, the coordinates still haven’t been set for the actual rendezvous. The only thing that’s certain is that it will be out at sea. Cyprus doesn’t want our six ships putting in here. Presumably Israel has applied pressure.

Now and then I also note tensions between the various groups that make up the leadership of this unwieldy project. The breakfast room has been pressed into service as a secretive meeting room. We are called in to write details of our next of kin, in case of the worst. Everyone writes away busily. Then we are told to wait. Watch and wait. Those are the words that will be used most often, like a mantra, in the coming days. Wait. Watch and wait.

Thursday 27 May, Nicosia

Wait. Watch and wait. Oppressive heat…

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  • Guest

    I guess you shouldn't have fucked with Israel…

    • E.B. Wolf

      Right on time. I could almost set my clock to your propaganda.

      • Guest

        And I could set mine to your hatred of Israel, and blind consumption and acceptance of agenda-laden news.

        • E.B. Wolf

          First, I don't hate anybody. Hate is an irrational emotion, and I'm a very rational man.
          Second, you're the one posting with an agenda (Israel is infallible) and hiding behind guest status.
          So if you're going to keep trolling this site in defense of a thuggish, war-mongering regime, at least do it from a verified account and stop being a chicken-shit.

          • Guest

            Israel isn't infallible, just right on this issue. Whether it's the Hamas goons swimming off the Gaza coast, or the European assholes who enable them, Israel will do what is necessary to defend itself from its enemies. We are no more war-mongering than the U.S. was when it defended itself against Pearl Harbor.

            And I'll set up a verified account when I'm goddamn good and ready.

          • E.B. Wolf

            You're equating an attack on a ship carrying food and medical supplies in international waters to a massive bombing raid on a military port?
            Thanks for illustrating my point.

          • Guest

            1. This was not an aid ship. IHH is a Turkish terrorist group, not a relief organization. If it was legitimate aid they should've delivered it to an Israeli port to be inspected.

            2. Israel and Egypt placed a blockade on Gaza to prevent weapons and materiel from reaching Hamas, which has been shooting rockets into Israel from Gaza. The ship attempted to run the blockade, and the passengers attacked Israeli forces enforcing the blockade. They defended themselves from the attackers.

            3. Israel is fighting for its survival, and will do whatever is necessary to
            insure it. No apologies necessary, or forthcoming.

          • E.B. Wolf

            Speaking of blind consumption of agenda-laden news…..

          • Jane dow

            me thinks, Mr. logic, that you failed to address all points brought up by guest, and chose a vague reference to some agenda.
            Would you like to improve your performance here, dear sir?

          • E.B. Wolf

            Sure.

            Guest is simply passing along IDF talking points.

            The IDF engaged in an act of international piracy against an unarmed aid ship.

            A naval blockade is not, nor has ever been, a defensive maneuver. It is an aggressive tactic whose sole purpose is to starve a local population into submission. It is also an internationally recognized declaration of war.

            Therefore, why should anyone trust the Israelis to deliver food and medical supplies to a people they are at war with?

          • Jane dow

            Thank you ever so much.

            There is a certain irony in accusing someone of repeating propaganda while doing the very same thing. I don't mind you doing it, repeating the very same words someone with interest in the matter had spread, but then you defy your own purpose by referring to it as something negative.

            To your three points:

            1. Not much of an aid ship, with 400 people and much less supplies than what it could have carried. Wouldn't you agree that the main purpose was provocation?
            An act of piracy – if you read anything about this you know that this term cannot be applied legally to a sovereign state, which Israel still is. But the term is supposed to suggest (yet again, yet again) that Israel has no right to exist. Do you agree? Israel should be eradicated? Because than you have a common view with Hania in Gaza, and the organizers of this ship-ment.

            2. Very true, a naval blockade is not a defensive maneuver. The question of defense can only be perceived within a larger context. Within the Arab world you have those who, under some circumstances, a peace agreement, are prepared to live in peace along side Israel, and some who don't, no matter what. Mostly Islamists (I don't like to use the term “Fundamentalists” outside the original Christian context). It would be one thing if you only had the Islamist Hamas ruling the Palestinians, but you also have Fatah, who are prepared to tolerate Israel's existence, and even cooperate, once a peace agreement is reached. After the civil war between the two, Hamas got Gaza, and Fatah got the west bank. The stronger the Hamas gets, the weaker Fatah gets, the more problem Israel has in the short run, and the more danger in the long run.

            3. Blockade – obviously a moral problem. Not like you suggested, this is not like siege in the old days. Food supplies and medication are allowed in. But the situation is obviously not pleasant for the local population (in a double sense, a blockade, and an Islamist regime which not everybody supports). Israel does allow shipments in though, every day. It was the Hamas's choice to refuse the delivery of supplies from this shipment. Which means again, that the value of the supplies does not reach by far the value they are getting in terms of propaganda.

          • E.B. Wolf

            1. 400 people was far too many for an aide ship.
            You are absolutely right. They should have gone with a skeleton crew.
            Far fewer witnesses to deal with, huh? (wink, wink)

            2. Of course! Offense becomes defense if you just stand back far enough to get the proper vantage point.
            Keep going….a little farther…..more…..more…….not yet……..try looking from Jupiter.

            3. It doesn't seem to be much of a moral problem for the IDF.

            It seems a little odd how world opinion is near universal (except the U.S.) in condemnation of Israel's actions on that ship if Israel was just defending itself from a bunch of terrorists wielding pipes and clubs. It's hard to get that kind of consensus on anything.

            I suppose the whole world is just a bunch of anti-semites. You poor, poor babies.

          • Jane dow

            Oh dear.

            You have me there. Can't get you to seriously refer to some facts, things that don't fit in your computer game simulation of a real complex political and military situation. And when in doubt, “it's all a military conspiracy”.

            Don't worry. I do not think you are antisemitic. I just think that, if you do have intelligence, it is not invested in your reading of international relations, nor you arguments here.

          • E.B. Wolf

            “it's all a military conspiracy.”
            If you're going to put quotes around a statement, they should at least be around a statement I actually said.

  • Svensk

    Wtf, how hard can it be to get his name right? It's Henning Mankell! Not Menkel! Kinda shows the level of quality here on disinfo. This used to be a good site a few years ago, but nowadays it's just full of gossip, obviously fake/stupid news and trolling.

    Oh, not to forget the way everyone bashes each other on the comment section. GJ.

    • http://disinfo.com Majestic

      Thanks for pointing that out, mea culpa. Feel free to suggest stories you would like to see on the site, here:

      http://disinfo.com/submit-story/

  • E.B. Wolf

    Speaking of blind consumption of agenda-laden news…..

  • Guest

    Weapons being unloaded from the flotilla:

    http://www.flix.co.il/tapuz/showVideo.asp?m=342

  • E.B. Wolf

    The fact that Turkey (a longtime U.S. ally) is condemning this act of piracy makes for quite a messy situation.
    It might be necessary to conjure up a smear story linking the Turkish Prime Minister with some evil, terrorist regime such as Iran. They could also throw in that trusty boogie-man, Osama Bin Laden, for that final touch to gain U.S. sympathy. Maybe they can claim OBL is hiding in Iran and Turkey has known all along. That should do the trick.

    Oh wait, they already have: http://www.debka.com/article/8841/

  • E.B. Wolf

    “it’s all a military conspiracy.”
    If you’re going to put quotes around a statement, they should at least be around a statement I actually said.

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