Monday 29 January 2024 - 23:53

Pro-Palestinian Activists Persist in Targeting Israeli Ships at Australian Ports

Story Code : 1112506
Pro-Palestinian Activists Persist in Targeting Israeli Ships at Australian Ports
Last week witnessed an attempt by dozens of protesters to impede the ZIM Ganges container ship from reaching the Port of Melbourne. Law enforcement authorities eventually deployed pepper spray to disperse the blockade, unfolding against a backdrop of shipping containers and cranes, emblematic of the global industrialized world.

A considerable number of individuals were apprehended following the blockade that obstructed access to the wharf, leading to the closure of the Victorian International Container Terminal (VICT). Voluntary legal observers (MALS) accompanying the protesters reported encountering approximately 200 police officers, some on horseback.

Tasnim Mahmoud Sammak, representing the community organization Free Palestine Melbourne, was present during the four-day blockade. She emphasized, "I have family in Gaza, and they have nowhere to go in the bombarded prison it has become."

Sofia Sabbagh, a prominent Melbourne-based Palestinian artist, described the final showdown, stating, "They circled us forming lines, intimidating us." Sabbagh revealed that the group complied with a request to move on to avoid arrest, emphasizing that the crowd was non-threatening and engaged in peaceful chanting.

Legal observers maintained that once on public property, the police forcibly separated them from medical supplies and gear, resorting to aggressive actions. Sabbagh expressed distress, recounting, "I was traumatized seeing a person being dragged out of their wheelchair."

Victoria Police defended their use of pepper spray, citing the "dynamic nature" of the blockade and the perceived threat posed by "aggressive" protesters. Following numerous arrests, the fatigued activists regrouped at Sandridge Beach. Declan Furber Gillick, a representative from the revolutionary group the Black People’s Union, delivered a fervent speech urging the continued disruption of the military-industrial complex through "peaceful, people-powered, revolutionary tactics."

The blockade was initiated on the afternoon of January 19, just hours before the ZIM Ganges, sailing under the Portuguese flag, was scheduled to dock in Melbourne, Australia's second-largest city. ZIM shipping, initially established in 1945, has faced protests since Chief Executive Eli Glickman pledged to fulfill all of Israel's needs following Israel's launch of war on Gaza.

Port Melbourne, handling approximately 8,850 containers daily, stands as Australia's largest commercial port. VICT noted in a press release that the protests had "effectively halted operations" for nearly four days, emphasizing the significant impact on port activities.

Initially organized by Unionists for Palestine (U4P), the blockade garnered broader support as it evolved, transforming into a coalition involving Palestinian, First Nations, and antiwar groups by January 20.