Several port workers and hundreds of supporters gathered at the Durban Harbour yesterday morning to protest the docking of an Israeli ship, The Zim Shanghai, and refused to offload cargo from an Israeli ship in protest against Israel’s bombardment of Gaza, the South African Trade and Allied Workers Union (SATAWU) announced on Thursday.
The press release by (SATAWU) read, “The decision by SATAWU and the BDS Coalition follows a call by the Palestine General Federation of Trade Unions (PGFTU) on workers and trade unions to refuse to unload [Israeli] ships and goods from sea and airports. The PGFTU call is one of many actions of boycotts, divestment and sanctions called for by Palestinians as a result of the current Israeli onslaught on Gaza, in which more than 230 people have been killed, most of them civilians, and including about 70 children, as well as the wholesale destruction by Israel of infrastructure in Gaza, and 14-year hermetic siege of the territory.”
The protest by SATAWU is backed by 18 organisations who are all calling on Transnet to restrict Israeli buy offs from entering the ports.
An Israeli-Palestinian ceasefire came into effect in the early hours of this morning, bringing an end to 11 days of fighting.
More protests are expected at Durban Esplanade throughout the day. SATAWU’s deputy general secretary, Anele Kiet, said in Durban that its members would snub Israeli carriers and related work, and, in addition, there would be lunch time pickets in solidarity with the Palestinian cause.
“We received a request from the SA BDS Coalition that as part of showing solidarity with Palestine, Satawu members who work in the Durban port need to boycott the shipment. Indeed we have contacted our members at the Durban port, who have confirmed they will not be offloading the shipment. We will be picketing every day at lunchtime and engaging in demonstrations,” said Kiet.
The SA BDS Coalition, an affiliate of the Palestinian BDS Committee, said it would be joined by unions and civil society bodies sympathetic to the Palestinian cause in protests this morning.
“Members of the South African BDS Coalition, its affiliates and other partner organisations and trade unions will converge on the Durban Esplanade and Durban port on Friday, 21 May, to protest the docking (sic) of an Israeli ship, and in celebration of the decision by members of SATAWU to boycott the offloading of the ship,” the coalition said in a statement.
It said more than 230 people had been killed, most of them civilians, including about 70 unarmed children, as well as the wholesale destruction of infrastructure in Gaza, and a 14-year siege of the territory.
The Zim Shanghai, owned by Israeli state-owned company Zim Lines, was said by the coalition to have entered Durban harbour on Wednesday night.
In March, Member of Parliament Mandla Mandela endorsed a bill seeking to outlaw the South African government and private sector from having trade or diplomatic ties with Israel. Businesses which contravenes the provision is expected to be fined R300,000 or jailed for 5 years.