Press release for Tacoma Action & why we’re doing this!

More than 100 Palestinians have been killed since Israel resumed airstrikes last week.  On Saturday and Sunday, Palestinian medics said at least 22 people were killed, including a one-year-old girl and a mother and three children from the same family. And today several Palestinians have been killed, including a three-year-old boy!  No business as usual for Israel until Palestinian demands for justice and freedom are met.  Let’s end these atrocities!  Block the Boat!

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
August 25, 2014

Activists succeed in delaying Israeli ship in Tacoma, prepare for Seattle

Local human-rights activists succeeded in delaying work on unloading the Israeli freight ship ZIM CHICAGO at the Port of Tacoma, and have reason to believe they delayed the ship from entering the Ports of Tacoma and Seattle for several days.

“Delaying even by one hour costs ZIM money.  Delaying for days causes a significant expense and sends a clear message that there will be no business as usual with Israel as long as it blockades the Gaza Strip,” said Nada Elia, an organizer of the blockade.

“Delay has always been our goal and expectation.  The amazing success in Oakland of turning a ZIM ship away altogether of course raised our hopes, but we always knew our circumstances were different here, especially with a local longshoreworkers’ union that was willing to send workers across our picket line, even when some members of the union were sympathetic with our cause,” said Ed Mast, another organizer.

For the Saturday 8 AM longshore work shift, at least 150 activists blocked both of the entry gates for longshore workers at the Washington United Terminal (WUT) where the ZIM ship was docked at the Port of Tacoma.  That picket successfully closed both gates, and the work of unloading the ZIM CHICAGO ship was delayed; but then workers were snuck in through an entirely different terminal, a very unusual and surprising action.  At first some blockaders felt defeated by this, but then it became apparent that the Port of Tacoma and the ZIM company, to achieve this maneuver,  had to delay the arrival of the ZIM CHICAGO ship for days until August 23 when that alternate terminal was empty of any scheduled ships to be unloaded, so that longshore workers could be diverted there from the WUT terminal.  ZIM was also most likely trying to divert more shipping customers to unload their goods from the ship in Vancouver instead of Puget Sound, out of fear of the possible blockade.

“They were so afraid of repeating the disaster they faced in Oakland that they delivered us our victory before they even reached the port,” said Mast.

At the Saturday 6 PM longshore workers’ shift, the blockaders employed a mobile strategy using cars and bicycles to move their blockade rapidly between terminal gates.  It turned out that the Port of Tacoma had opened at least seven terminal gates for this purpose, some of which hadn’t been used in years or decades and were unknown to many staff.  Blockaders managed to be at all of them, turning away some cars and facing physical aggression from police and others.  The work of unloading the ZIM CHICAGO ship was once again delayed, though physical force by police managed to allow a reduced work force to enter the various terminals.

The Block the Boat campaign is preparing more blockades for the ZIM CHICAGO ship’s arrival in Seattle.   It is not yet clear whether similar factors as before are causing apparent delays in docking and unloading in the Port of Seattle.  Date and time are not yet certain, but blockade actions are being planned for as soon as Monday evening.  Updates are being posted at blocktheboatnw.wordpress.com and sent out by text, email and Twitter.

BACKGROUND:

On the heels of a successful action in Oakland, CA to block an Israeli ZIM freight ship from unloading in the port there, human-rights activists in the Puget Sound area are blockading and attempting to delay another freight ship from the same Israeli company which will be unloading at the Port of Seattle.

The West Coast blockades of Israeli ZIM ships are part of the international campaign of boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS)against Israel’s ongoing violations of human rights and international law, including Israel’s recent assault on the captive population of Gaza, during which Israel bombed schools, several hospitals, seven UN-­‐designated shelters, Gaza’s only power plant, and Gaza’s water purification system.  More than 2000 Palestinians, mostly civilians, have been killed by Israel’s attacks over the past month.

Local activists are also responding to the Palestinian General Federation Trade Union call for international supporters to  take action in support of the people of Gaza. A letter signed by 93 Gazan civil society members,  including teachers, doctors, and lawyers, demands three basic rights:
1) freedom for Palestinians to move freely in and out of Gaza;
2)  unlimited import and export of supplies and goods, including by land, sea and air;
3) unrestricted use of the Gaza seaport.

The day and time of the Seattle blockade is not yet certain. Updates are public on https://blocktheboatnw.wordpress.com and questions can be directed to blocktheboatnw@gmail.com.

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