South African Dockworkers Refuse to Unload Israeli Ship in Solidarity with Palestinians

Human face painted with flag of South Africa

Originally published May 20, 2021 in MEE

Dockworkers in the South African port city of Durban have refused to off-load cargo from an Israeli ship in protest against Israel’s offensive on the besieged Gaza Strip.

The South African BDS Coalition told Middle East Eye that dockworkers belonging to the South African Transport and Allied Workers Union (SATAWU) would not off-load the cargo from the Israeli vessel following a call from the Palestine General Federation of Trade Unions.

Port authorities instead facilitated the offloading after being informed about the protest by the union.

The dockworkers’ action comes just days after similar action was taken by dockworkers in the Italian city of Livorno, who refused to load an arms shipment to a ship belonging to the same Israeli company, Zim Integrated Shipping.

“The port of Livorno will not be an accomplice in the massacre of the Palestinian people,” L’Unione Sindacale di Base (USB) said in a statement.

According to the JTA, the Italian government stepped in and put an end to the brief protest after it emerged that the Israeli union in Haifa had told its workers to stop unloading Italian vessels. 

Zim, considered the 10th largest shipping company in the world, did not immediately reply to MEE’s request for comment.

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Media Statement by Nkosi ZMD Mandela, MP

We salute Durban Dockworkers for refusing to offload Israeli ship!!

Mvezo Komkhulu (The Great Place) 20th May 2021: We salute the Durban Dockworkers for refusing to offload an Israeli ship. We call on all Dockworkers to follow suit. We call on the South African Transport and Allied Workers Union (SATAWU) to lead this front of struggle and ensure that no goods from Apartheid Israel are handled by land, sea or air.

You follow in the firm footsteps of dockworkers all over the world including Nigeria, Ghana, Somali, the UK, Trinidad and Tobago, USA San Francisco Bay Area and Sydney Australia in the late 1950s and 1960s who likewise refused to handle South African goods.

We also call on unions and shopworkers throughout South Africa and all over the world to refuse to handle Israeli produce just as a 21 year old Mary Manning refused to handle a South African grapefruit at Dunnes Store Dublin that culminated in a three year long boycott action that led to the Irish Government eventually adopting a ban on the importation of South African goods.

We call on all unions, NGOs, CBOs to intensify the boycott, divestment and sanctions campaign. We must put pressure on our governments to cut all diplomatic, trade and cultural ties with Apartheid Israel.
We must use our presence in multilateral forums to call on the International Criminal Court to charge Netanyahu for crimes against humanity.

We call on the global solidarity movement to intensify the mobilisation against the atrocities committed by Apartheid Israel.

Let us respond and emulate the statement on the 21st December 1959 by Chief Albert Luthuli and we say loud and clear for all the world to hear: We appeal to all governments throughout the world, to people everywhere, to all organisations and institutions in every land and at every level to act now to impose such sanctions on Apartheid Israel that will bring about the vital necessary change and avert what is the greatest tragedy of our time and what Nkosi Dalibhunga Mandela described as the greatest moral issue of our time.

Nkosi Zwelivelile
Royal House of Mandela
Mvezo Komkhulu
P.O. Box 126
Viedgesville 5102
Eastern Cape Province
South Africa ????????