Saturday, June 5, 2010

Flotilla raid diary: 'A man is shot. I am seeing it happen'

The prize-winning writer and creator of Wallander was among those on board the Gaza flotilla. Here he shares his private diary of the events leading to his capture

Well Worth Reading

Henning Mankell
The Guardian, Saturday 5 June 2010

".....So in those 11 hours, I have time to take stock. We have been attacked while in international waters. That means the Israelis have behaved like pirates, no better than those who operate off the coast of Somalia. The moment they start to steer this ship towards Israel, we have also been kidnapped. The whole action is illegal.We try to talk among ourselves, work out what might happen, and not least how the Israelis could opt for a course of action that means painting themselves into a corner.

The soldiers watch us. Some pretend not to understand English. But they all do. There are a couple of girls among the soldiers. They look the most embarrassed. Maybe they are the sort who will escape to Goa and fall into drug addiction when their military service is over? It happens all the time.....

We are split up, no one is allowed to talk to anyone else. Suddenly a man from the Israeli ministry for foreign affairs appears at my side. I realise he is there to make sure I am not treated too harshly. I am, after all, known as a writer in Israel. I've been translated into Hebrew. He asks if I need anything.

'My freedom and everybody else's,' I say. He doesn't answer. I ask him to go. He takes one step back. But he stays.

I admit to nothing, of course, and am told I am to be deported. The man who says this also says he rates my books highly. That makes me consider ensuring nothing I write is ever translated into Hebrew again....

On board the plane, the air hostess gives me a pair of socks. Because mine were stolen by one of the commandos who attacked the boat I was on.

The myth of the brave and utterly infallible Israeli soldier is shattered. Now we can add: they are common thieves. For I was not the only one to be robbed of my money, credit card, clothes, MP3 player, laptop; the same happened to many others on the same ship as me, which was attacked early one morning by masked Israeli soldiers, who were thus in fact nothing other than lying pirates....."

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