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16 August 2014.|
U.S. and Canadian activists are planning a series of actions beginning on Saturday to shut down West Coast ports to prevent a commercial Israeli cargo vessel from docking and unloading goods.
The actions come in response to a call from Palestinian and South African unions to hold Israel accountable for what they allege are violations of Palestinians "human rights" particularly during Israel's latest offensive in the Gaza Strip, an operation that has killed more than 1,900 Palestinians.
Palestine is calling us to action!
Palestinian laborers [and the] Palestinian General Federation Trade Union have called on workers around the world to refuse to handle Israeli goods, said a leaflet calling for the actions, collectively called Block the Boat.
Saturday's protest was set to take place in Oakland, California, with subsequent ones scheduled in the coming weeks for Seattle and Vancouver.
The action is part of a campaign launched by members of Palestinian civil society in 2005 for boycotts, divestment and sanctions (BDS) to pressure Israel to end its occupation of Palestinian lands and to adhere to international law, in its treatment of the Palestinian people.
It is modeled after similar tactics that international activists used in the 1980s to pressure South Africa's former apartheid regime to accept majority rule.
"Block the Boat" will target Israel's largest cargo shipping company, Zim Integrated Shipping Services Ltd.
If successful, it would effectively lock out Israeli commercial shipping from the West Coasts of both the United States and Canada, activists said.
Block the Boat organizers alleged that Zim has a history of supporting Israel's occupation and subjugation of Palestinians.
From its founding in 1945 by the Jewish Agency for Israel, and the Histradut, Zim has served Israeli settler-colonialism, bringing settlers to Palestine, and serving as Israel's only maritime connection during the 1948 war, supplying food, freight, and military equipment used of course to carry out the Nakba.
The worldwide commerce conducted by Zim today, funds the occupation of Palestine, with revenue generated on every continent, a statement issued by the activist group read.
The Nakba, or catastrophe, is how Palestinians refer to the events that led to the founding of Israel, when attacks by armed groups led to the expulsion and fleeing of more than 700,000 Palestinian men, women and children.
We will be answering this call by organizing community pickets at the Port of Oakland, asking the longshoremen to honor this request, and to stand with the people of Palestine as they have done in the past, the group's statement read.
Organizers said they hoped to have union workers support for the action, and cited a history of solidarity by The International Longshoremen and Warehousemen Unions (ILWU), who cooperated with a similar action in 2010 by refusing to unload a Zim cargo ship.