OAKLAND – Hundreds of pro-Palestinian demonstrators gathered at the Port of Oakland before dawn Sunday in a bid to prevent an Israeli cargo ship from unloading for the day.
Richard Becker ANSWER Coalition, one of the groups which organized the protest, told the San Francisco Chronicle: “Our objective was to boycott this ship for 24 hours, and we succeeded in doing that.”
The newspaper reported that the demonstrators first gathered before dawn at Berth 58, where a ship from Israel’s Zim shipping line was scheduled to dock Sunday, first in the morning then in the afternoon. It eventually arrived around 6 pm, Becker said, but by that time the dockworkers had agreed not to show up to unload the vessel.
More than 500 people showed up about 5:30 am Sunday to begin the protest, according to police estimates. By around 10 am the crowd dispersed, but about 200 protesters returned in the afternoon when the second shift of dockworkers were scheduled to work.
Becker said some workers showed up for the morning shift, but virtually none did for the second. All agreed not to unload the ship or cross the picket lines, citing concern for their personal safety. There were no reports of violence or arrests.
The Oakland Port is not the first to witness an anti-Israel protest. Several days after the death of nine pro-Palestinian activists in a Navy raid on a Gaza-bound flotilla, Swedish dockworkers launched a weeklong boycott of Israeli ships and goods.
Peter Annerback, a spokesman for the Swedish Port Workers Union which has around 1,500 members, said workers were urged to refuse handling of Israeli goods and ships during the June 15-24 boycott.
In a statement, the union said the reason for the boycott “is the unprecedented criminal attack on the peaceful ship convoy In Gaza. Several peace activists were killed by Israeli commandos and other participants were detained without any reason.”
It also urged other unions and organizations to join them through similar initiatives and called for Israel to be brought to justice for the attack and that it respects international law “and that the blockade of Gaza immediately lifted.”
See Related: GAZA FLOTILLA ARCHIVE
SENTINEL FOUNDER PAT MURPHY