Pro-Palestine protesters again thwart Israeli cargo ship in Oakland

Pro-Palestine protesters again thwart Israeli cargo ship in Oakland-Forced to Leave For LA With Unloading And Loading Cargo
New picketing effort at Port of Oakland prevents Israeli-owned cargo ship from unloading after similar incident last month
• Ed Pilkington in New York
•, Sunday 28 September 2014 15.40 EDT
Demonstrators approach the Port of Oakland in an attempt to prevent an Israeli ship from docking last month. Photograph: Jason Benttinen/Justin Benttinen/The Guardian
Protesters demonstrating against the recent Israeli military operation in Gaza have launched a fresh picket at the Port of Oakland in California, preventing an Israeli-owned container ship from unloading its cargo.

A picket of about 200 pro-Palestinian demonstrators campaigning under the title “Block the Boat” assembled on Saturday alongside the Zim Shanghai, a massive, 300-meter commercial vessel. No cargo was unloaded after members of the International Longshore and Warehouse Union refused to work on the ship, citing safety fears due to the crowd of protesters and police.

One of the protest organizers, Steve Zeltzer, said: “I think it was a big victory today for those who are opposed to the policies of Israel in Gaza.”

The successful action to frustrate the unloading of the Zim Shanghai follows similar protests last month in ports along the coast of California and in Florida. The Zim Shanghai’s sister ship, the Zim Piraeus, was blockaded for four days and prevented from unloading at the same port in Oakland. In the end, the vessel had to make its way to Los Angeles with its cargo still on board.

Further protests were staged in Seattle, Tacoma and Long Beach ports in California, and Tampa in Florida.

The frustrated shipments all belonged to the Zim Integrated Shipping Services, Israel’s largest cargo-shipping business and one of the biggest in the world. According to the company’s website, it has an annual turnover of almost $4bn and delivers to 180 ports around the world.

The picketers said they were protesting against Israel’s 50-day military intervention in Gaza this summer, which is said to have caused almost $8bn in damages and killed more than 2,000 Palestinians. The Israeli government said the action was necessary to destroy tunnels built by Hamas for launching attacks inside Israel; 70 Israelis died during the conflict.

A report posted on Pro-Israel Bay Bloggers accused the protesters of intimidating the dockers and said the action would harm the economy of Oakland.

“Who will pay the ultimate cost of this cheap symbolic ‘victory’?” the post asked. “The port will suffer for this. And the thousands of people who rely on the port for their livelihood will suffer. Ultimately, Oakland will suffer.”

According to marine trackers, by Sunday afternoon the Zim Shanghai had left Oakland with its cargo still on board and, like the Zim Piraeus last month, was making its way to Los Angeles.