Israeli Zim ship Piraeus hit by protest unloads, leaves Oakland
Ship hit by protest unloads, leaves Oakland
By Henry Lee
August 20, 2014 | Updated: August 20, 2014 6:19pm
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(08-20) 18:17 PDT OAKLAND -- A cargo ship targeted by protesters upset by Israel's military actions in Gaza was unloaded overnight and left the Port of Oakland on Wednesday, a spokesman for longshore workers said.
"All the work was completed" before the ship left port at 8:45 a.m., said Craig Merrilees, a spokesman for the International Longshore and Warehouse Union. By evening, it had departed through the Golden Gate, with its destination listed as Vostochnyy, Russia
Pro-Palestinian activists who have protested the presence of the ship Zim Piraeus since the weekend declared victory, saying it was the first time the unloading of a cargo vessel managed by an Israeli company had been blocked by protests for more than one day.
"Zim has undoubtedly suffered significant economic losses, and we have set a powerful precedent for what international solidarity with Palestine, through boycott, divestment and sanctions, can look like," said Reem Assil of the Arab Resource and Organizing Center.
The conflict began when demonstrators showed up at the port Saturday, a day before the ship's arrival at a terminal off Middle Harbor Road.
Many longshore workers refused to report to work as protesters picketed the port and Oakland police and Alameda County sheriff's deputies maintained a heavy presence.
The workers said they would not unload the ship "under armed police escort - not with our experience with the police in this community," said Melvin MacKay, president of Local 10 of the longshore union.
Union officials cited a 2003 port rally in which Oakland police fired nonlethal projectiles, including wood bullets and bean bags, at Iraq War protesters.
On Tuesday the Zim Piraeus left Oakland supposedly bound for Los Angeles, then made a U-turn outside the Golden Gate and steamed back to Oakland, where longshore workers unloaded it.
Workers did so because there was no "safety issue," said longshore union spokeswoman Jennifer Sargent, even though protesters blocked the port entrance.
The Zim Piraeus is managed by Israel's largest shipping firm, Zim Integrated Shipping Services. Andy David, consul general for Israel in San Francisco, said the company is 32 percent owned by Israeli shareholders, and that the rest is owned by various international interests, including banks and other shipping companies.
As of late Wednesday, the ship was all but stationary in the bay. Its destination was unclear.
Henry K. Lee is a San Francisco Chronicle staff writer. E-mail: email@example.com Twitter:@henryklee