Pro-Palestinian protesters take to waters at Port Botany in blockade campaign against Israeli ships

Pro-Palestinian protesters take to waters at Port Botany in blockade campaign against Israeli ships

Sunday 12/11/2023
Rally organisers claim shipping company ZIM is a transporter of weapons to Israel.(ABC News: Jack Fisher )

Several hundred pro-Palestinian protesters have converged on the Port of Botany in Sydney, claiming to have forced an Israeli cargo ship to reschedule its arrival.

Protesters waved flags and chanted from the shore, while others yelled from jetskis on the water where the ship Contship Dax, owned by Israeli company ZIM, was due to arrive at midday.

Saturday's rally is the sixth in the city since the beginning of the Israel-Gaza conflict on October 7, when a terrorist attack by Hamas killed about 1,200 Israelis — a figure recently revised down from 1,400 by Israel's foreign ministry.

During this period, at least 11,078 Palestinians, including 4,506 children, have been killed in Israeli retaliatory attacks, according to Gaza health authorities.

Protest organisers, the Palestine Justice Movement for Sydney and Trade Unionists for Palestine, said the action was the "first step of the campaign against the Israeli shipping line ZIM".

They claim the international company is a transporter of weapons to Israel.

Union member Paddy Gibson told the crowd organisers would call a protest each time they heard a ZIM ship was due to dock at the Port of Botany.

"They're in every port of the world, that means we can fight them in every port of the world and bring them to their knees," Mr Gibson said.

"Start hitting them economically where it hurts."

The ship was not in port when protesters arrived and It is understood the schedule was changed after the rally was announced.

NSW Police on foot and on horseback patrolled the area, but no port operations were blocked.

Last week, demonstrators stopped trucks by standing on a road at Melbourne's Webb Dock, where another ZIM ship was due to arrive.

Sydney protester Mohammed Qaddoura said he was buoyed by the large number of people in attendance from different backgrounds.

"I can see a lot of people, not just Palestinians or Arabs or Muslims, everyone. Which I am really glad to see," he said.

Peak body Road Freight NSW chief executive Simon O'Hara called on organisers to ensure trucking operators could continue to work at the port without being blockaded.

"If we continue to see protests like this during this period the supply chain will be affected," Mr O'Hara said.

"And the last thing is not only truckies accosted but consumers who are out there trying to buy gifts for Christmas not being able to do that because of these protests."

Motorcade to Coogee

On Saturday evening, a motorcade of about 20 motorcycle riders and a handful of cars displaying Palestinian flags made their way from Lidcombe in Sydney's west to the eastern beachside suburb of Coogee.

The group was met by people carrying Israeli and Australian flags, and a large police presence.

Some men drove past the Israeli supporters waving Palestinian flags and calling out from cars before police appeared to redirect the motorcade to separate the two groups.

The Israeli supporter group was dispersed by police before 7pm.

Another pro-Palestinian demonstration is planned in the CBD on Sunday, while pro-Israeli supporters are due to take part in a prayer vigil in Sydney's east.

On Friday, NSW Police said officers, including those from Traffic and Highway Patrol Command, would be out in full force over the weekend.

Story by Isobel Roe

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