Labour movements show their support for Durban dock workers who have refused to offload cargo from an Israeli cargo ship. (Photo: Mluleki Mdletshe)
South African dockworkers boycotted the offloading of an Israeli ship docked at the Durban harbor late Wednesday, according to a statement Thursday.
The South African Transport and Allied Workers Union (SATAWU) said the decision came after calls by the Palestine General Federation of Trade Unions (PGFTU) to refuse to unload Israeli ships and goods from seas and airports.
The Zim Shanghai is owned by Israeli state-owned company Zim Lines.
SATAWU said the move is part of a global set of actions against Zim Lines.
Earlier this week, workers in the Italian city of Livorno refused to load an arms shipment onto the Asiatic Island, another Zim Lines ship.
The L’Unione Sindacale di Base (USB) trade union said the port will not be an accomplice in the massacre of Palestinians as the cargo contained weapons and explosives that could be used to kill the Palestinian population.
South African dockworkers are not newcomers to action against Zim Lines ships. In 2009, SATAWU members refused to offload a ship in protest of the 2008-2009 Israeli attack on Gaza. Workers will also hold two days of protests in Durban in solidarity with Palestine.
The South Africa government openly supports Palestine’s quest for freedom. President Cyril Ramaphosa said Monday that “we stand with the Palestinian people in their quest for self-determination, but also in their resistance against the deprivation of their human rights and the denial of their dignity”.
Writing in his weekly column, Ramaphosa said the sight of a group of Palestinian families evicted from their homes in the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood in East Jerusalem to make way for Israeli settlements reminded him of what happened to millions of South Africans, including his own family, during the apartheid era.
“It was a pain and humiliation faced by my own family, and by many South African families. My family was forcibly moved to different parts of the country on two occasions,” he said.
He said being forced from one’s home at gunpoint is a trauma not easily forgotten and is carried across generations.
Ramaphosa said unless the root causes of the Israel-Palestine conflict are addressed, in this case the illegal occupation by Israel of Palestinian land and the denial of the Palestinian people’s right to self-determination, there will never be peace.