Pro-Palestinian Activists Blockade ZIM Ship at Port of Melbourne

File image courtesy VICT

Published Jan 21, 2024 11:59 PM by The Maritime Executive

Pro-Palestinian activists have been protesting Israeli ships at Australia's seaports for months, and the blockades are beginning to have an operational impact. Protesters have obstructed the entrance to a terminal at the Port of Melbourne for more than three days, attempting to interfere with cargo operations on a ZIM container ship.

AIS data shows that two unrelated container ships are moored alongside at the terminal, and the ZIM Ganges is waiting at anchor in Melbourne's harbor. 

The protesters have attempted to physically prevent vehicles and port employees from entering the terminal complex. One video from the scene showed protesters shoving a man who tried to pass through the gate; others show scuffles with police.

"Most of our people didn't feel safe because the police were telling them they couldn't guarantee their safety," VICT container terminal CEO Bruno Porcheitto told ABC.  

Countermeasures taken by the local police have had little impact so far, activists say. Officers used pepper spray and arrested one woman on an assault charge over the weekend, but the blockade continued. 

ZIM is Israeli-controlled and partly owned by the Israeli state. In time of war, it places a priority on government cargoes. This has made it a target for pro-Palestinian activists who wish to protest the ongoing Israeli operation in Gaza. 

"The action has completely blocked the port . . . to send a strong message to the government that Melbournians are not happy with ZIM ships being loaded," protest organizer Mohammed Helmy told Middle East Eye. 

It is not the first time that Israeli ships have had an unfriendly welcome in Australia. Last year, protesters showed up multiple times to meet Israeli vessels in Melbourne, Sydney, and Fremantle, in the country's far southwest.