Dock workers in South Africa take a stand by refusing to offload Israeli ship’s cargo

South Africans protest in solidarity with Palestine

Dock workers in the South African city of Durban are currently supporting the boycott of Israel’s apartheid state. An Israeli ship docked there on Wednesday 19 May, and in a press release the workers said they would “refuse to offload the ship and handle the ship’s cargo, which is due to start on Friday, 21 May”. This decision by members of the South African Transport and Allied Workers Union (SATAWU) has the support of a number of trade unions and other groups.

The workers explain that they are heeding a call from the Palestine General Federation of Trade Unions (PGFTU) for workers around the world to “refuse to unload [Israeli] ships and goods from sea and airports”. They add that:

The protests also target [South Africa’s state-owned “custodian of ports, rail and pipelines”] Transnet, demanding that the parastatal not allow goods to or from Israel to pass through South African ports.

The ship that docked in Durban belongs to Zim Lines, a company owned by the Israeli state.

TimesLIVE spoke to Na’eem Jeenah from South Africa’s Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions (SA BDS) Coalition about the action. Jeenah said:

We are not sure what the cargo is, but the protest is against any Israel ship docking on SA shores.

Global solidarity

The action in Durban, as the press release explains, follows a similar action in Italy:

Earlier this week, workers in the Italian city of Livorno refused to load an arms shipment onto the Asiatic Island, another Zim Lines ship. Their union, L’Unione Sindacale di Base (USB) said, “The port of Livorno will not be an accomplice in the massacre of the Palestinian people.” The cargo, USB said, contained “weapons and explosives that will serve to kill the Palestinian population”.

There are also boycott plans in the US:

In the port of Oakland, USA, trade union and Palestinian solidarity activists are preparing to prevent the offloading of another Zim Lines ship that is due to dock there soon, in a campaign called “Block the Boat”.

Meanwhile, South Africa’s minister of international relations and cooperation said on 20 May:

South Africa should support the International Criminal Court in the planned investigation of the abuse of human rights by the Israeli Government. We hope sanctions and other measures to show the world’s offence at this brutality will soon be evident.

Main article image via screenshot