Protesting Israel's recent war and ongoing apartheid against Palestinians, activists thwarted an Israeli cargo ship at the Port of Oakland on Saturday by forcing the boat to depart the Bay Area unloaded.
According to reports, at least 75 and possibly as many as 200 protesters dispersed across the five entrances to the shipping berth in the pre-dawn hours on Saturday hoping to prevent longshore workers from unloading the Zim Shanghai, which is owned by Israel's largest cargo shipping company.
However, in a sign that the protesters say the workers had chosen to boycott in solidarity with the anti-Israeli action, only one longshore worker had even chosen to come to work that day to unload the ship. In the days leading up to the protest, organizers had been handing out flyers outside of the hiring hall in San Francisco to alert the workers to the action.
"I think it was a big victory today for those who are opposed to the policies of Israel in Gaza," protester Steve Zeltzer told the Guardian.
The protesters, who organized the action under the banner "Block the Boat," say that Zim Integrated Shipping Services has long profited from the Israeli subjugation of Palestinians.
"From its founding in 1945 by the Jewish Agency for Israel and the Histradut, Zim has served Israeli settler-colonialism, bringing settlers to Palestine and serving as Israel’s only maritime connection during the 1948 war, supplying 'food, freight, and military equipment' used, of course, to carry out the Nakba," according to the Block the Boat website. "The worldwide commerce conducted by Zim today funds the occupation of Palestine with revenue generated on every continent."
The action follows similar demonstrations in Oakland, California in June and August and last week in Tampa, Florida. Last month, protesters blocked the ZIM Piraeus from unloading at the Port of Oakland for nearly five days before the ship was forced to unload at a nearby port and depart to Los Angeles still carrying a partial load.
"The momentum that we had going in August should be continued," Zeltzer told Charlotte Silver with The Electronic Intifada. "We have to build a movement to shut down Zim everywhere."