California: Pro-Palestinian Protesters Block Israeli Ship from Unloading

Protesters block unloading of Israeli ship in Oakland

By Hamed Aleaziz

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Protesters angered by Israel’s military actions in Gaza gathered at the Port of Oakland on Saturday morning in an effort to prevent a cargo ship managed by an Israeli company from unloading.

Longshore workers did not unload the ship, the Zim Shanghai, because of safety concerns posed by the presence of several hundred protesters and about 50 police officers, said Craig Merrilees, spokesman for the International Longshore and Warehouse Union. The ship is docked at the port’s Berth 59, he said.

The workers planned to reassess the situation later during the Saturday evening shift, he said. The union has not taken a position on the protest or any of the issues involved.

About 200 demonstrators picketed outside several of the port’s gates on Saturday morning, said Steve Zeltzer, part of the Stop Zim Action Committee, which is organizing the protest.

“I think it was a big victory today for those who are opposed to the policies of Israel in Gaza,” he said. The group planned to return to the port later Saturday in preparation for the longshore workers’ evening shift.

The Zim Shanghai is managed by Israel’s largest shipping firm, Zim Integrated Shipping Services.

In late August, protesters blocked the unloading of the Zim Piraeus for several days. Andy David, consul general for Israel in San Francisco, said in August that the company is owned by numerous international interests, including banks, and 32 percent by Israeli shareholders.

“Mostly they are not hurting Israel,” said Andy David, consul general for Israel in San Francisco, “they are hurting the local business community.”

He said that the ship doesn’t go to Israel but instead travels between the east and West Coast.

“What we see and understand there is full cooperation between the protesters and the longshoremen here in Oakland … that type of cooperation doesn’t happen anywhere else,” he said.

Hamed Aleaziz is a

San Francisco Chronicle staff writer. E-mail: haleaziz@sfchronicle.com Twitter: @haleaziz

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