Oakland protest blocks unloading of Israeli cargo ship

SF Chronicle: Activists protesting Israel’s military action in the Gaza Strip converged on the Port of Oakland on Sunday afternoon in an effort to block the unloading of an Israeli cargo ship, the second such action in two days.

The activists formed pickets at several Port gates to prevent workers from unloading the Piraeus, a vessel from Zim Integrated Shipping Services, Israel’s largest shipping firm. The ship docked at 5 p.m. at the port’s Oakland International Container Terminal, and protesters communicating via Twitter said port employees were honoring their picket lines.

“It’s my understanding that labor did not report to work for the 7 p.m. shift at the Oakland International Terminal,” port spokeswoman Marilyn Sandifur said Sunday evening. “All other port operations are unaffected.”

With tensions still high between the Israeli government and Hamas, the Piraeus has become the focus of attention for Bay Area activists.

Organizing under the motto “Block the Boat,” they first expected the ship to reach Oakland early Saturday morning. Word that the ship’s arrival had been delayed led activists to rally at the port Saturday afternoon instead, in a large procession waving Palestinian flags and signs reading “Let Gaza Live.”

Then, as the ship neared the Golden Gate on Sunday afternoon, tracked by the online service Marine Traffic, activists returned to the port.

Organizers describe the action as part of a larger international movement to boycott Israeli goods and force companies to divest from the country.

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