CANADIAN workers on June 14th prevented an Israeli container ship from unloading by forming a picket line at the entrance to the Fairview container terminal. They refused to let the vessel, The Volans, owned by the Israeli shipping company ZIM, to berth at Prince Rupert Port.
The pickets said they were acting in solidarity with ‘Block the Boat Movement’, whose aim is to stop Israel from shipping goods to North America in protest against the latest Israeli war.
At least 260 Palestinians, including 66 children, were killed in the Israeli bombardment of the Gaza Strip in 11 days of the war that began on May 10. Israel’s airstrikes also brought widespread devastation to the already impoverished territory.
Earlier this month, dockworkers in the US Port of Oakland also refused to unload The Volans as part of the international boycott campaign against Israeli atrocities against the Palestinians.
The American activists held banners and waved Palestinian flags in support of the movement which seeks to impose an economic boycott on the Israeli regime.
‘Back up! Back up! We want Freedom, Freedom! All these Zionist attacks, we don’t need ’em, need ’em!’ demonstrators chanted, calling on the Israeli cargo ship to leave the port. The protesters finally forced it to leave the US harbour.
The movement is now spreading internationally. On Monday, a group of pro-Palestine activists occupied a factory in western England, which produces materials used to make fighter jets for the Israeli army.
Palestine Action began taking control of the Arconic factory in Birmingham in the early hours of Monday morning.
Arconic supplies various materials, including sheet metal, to manufacture Boeing and Lockheed Martin military aircraft used by the Israeli military in its latest assaults on the Gaza Strip.
Meanwhile, Israeli settlers are being stirred up to launch more vicious and violent attacks on Palestinians, warns the UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process, Tor Wennesland.
He spoke up on Monday night after the new Israeli coalition government led by Naftali Bennett and Yair Lapid authorised a ‘Flag March’ through East Jerusalem by Zionist fanatics, a march that was due to take place yesterday afternoon.
Wennesland said: ‘Tensions are rising again in Jerusalem at a very fragile and sensitive security and political time, when the United Nations and Egypt are actively engaged in solidifying the ceasefire.’
He was referring to the Flag March to be held in the Old City – ie occupied Jerusalem – which was backed by the new Israeli coalition government.
Wennesland added: ‘I urge all relevant parties to act responsibly and avoid any provocations that could lead to another round of confrontation.’
It is high time that the trade union movements of the world, particularly the UK’s TUC trade unions, follow the example of workers who refuse to unload Israeli ships or allow weapons to be built for the use of the Israeli army.
Over 500,000 workers and youth have marched in London in the past month in two great demonstrations to give their full support to the struggle for a Palestinian state.
At the march rally, Labour MP for Hayes and Harlington John McDonnell said: ‘Netanyahu must be imprisoned for war crimes. The campaign for disinvestment in Israel must be stepped up.’
National Education Union General Secretary Kevin Courtney said: ‘I am standing here in front of the Trade Unionists for Palestine banner, bearing the names of 15 major unions, the four largest unions in the country – Unite, Unison, GMB, NEU, along with ASLEF, RMT, TSSA, PCS, CWU, UCU, FBU, POA, Equity, the Bakers Union and the United World Transport Union. Trade unionists are here today in solidarity with the general strike in Palestine last week and we need to take similar action for Palestine here.’
The time for left talk is now well over. With the lives of Palestinians now being threatened by the Naftali Bennett and Yair Lapid Israeli regime, the Labour Party and TUC leaders must call a general strike to bring down the Tories and to recognise the state of Palestine, with Jerusalem as its capital, and with all Palestinians having the right to return.