Over the weekend, two aid flotilla ships sailed from Lebanon for Gaza, protesters in Oakland, California prevented an Israeli ship from unloading, and Gaza Freedom Flotilla organizers and participants pressured their governments to call on Israel to return personal items seized after Israel’s raid on the Freedom Flotilla.
Lebanese Transportation Minister Ghazi Aridi confirmed that Lebanon allowed two ships heading to Gaza to sail from Lebanon. The two ships, the Naji al-Ali and Maryam, are carrying activists, journalists, and aid. The Maryam is carrying female activists and chemotherapy medication for women and children in Gaza.
The ships have to sail to Cyprus before going to Gaza in order to avoid violating United Nations Resolution 1701. The resolution was drafted in 2006 and is the ceasefire agreement between Israel and Lebanon that ended Israel’s second war with Lebanon.
In Oakland, California an estimated 500 protesters gathered at the Port of Oakland at 5:30 AM to prevent a ship from Israel’s Zim shipping line from unloading at the port. The goal of the protest was to prevent the ship from unloading for 24 hours. Dock workers agreed not to try to unload the ship.
The protest was organized by the ANSWER coalition, a U.S. based group that protests against war and end racism. “We want to send a clear message that if you commit acts of piracy on the high sea, if you go and attack civilians and kill them in cold blood, execution style, if you put Gaza under siege, if you build an apartheid wall, if you have a racist nut for a foreign minister like Avigdor Lieberman, who is calling for the expulsion of the Palestinian people from 1948, that we will not honor your Israeli commerce right here in this town,” the organizers of the protest said.
The ANSWER coalition’s actions followed a weeklong boycott of Israeli ships and goods launched by the Swedish Port Workers Union. The Swedish Port Workers’ protest began on June 15 and will end on June 24.
In addition to other reactions to Israel’s attack on the Gaza Freedom Flotilla, organizers of the Flotilla called on Flotilla participants’ governments to to pressure Israel to return personal items and release evidence that was collected by participants during the raid.
Israel is holding cameras, camcorders, mobile phones, credit cards, clothing, and other personal items belonging to participants, Freedom Flotilla organizers said. The organizers called on Israel to release pictures and videos taken by participants and to prove that no evidence has been destroyed.
Israel’s raid on the Gaza Freedom Flotilla took place in international waters on May 31. Nine activists were killed and more than 40 others were injured during that attack.