The activists claim that the vessel was delivering arms to Israel
Demonstrators demanding an end to the war in Gaza delayed a US military supply vessel for several hours on Friday. Some activists attached themselves to the reservist vessel MV Cape Orlando, which was believed to be bound for Israel with weapons and gear.
Led by the San Francisco-based Arab Resource Organizing Center, the protest began early in the morning at the Port of Oakland and lasted into the afternoon, with some members climbing aboard the military container carrier ship using a rope ladder.
“It’s a US military ship. It’s destined to go to Tacoma [Washington], pick up US military arms and then take those arms to Israel,” Palestinian protester Meena Abushamala told local media. A spokesman for the group, Wassim Hage, added that they learned of the shipment through a “confidential source.”
Pro-Palestinian protesters block military supply ship at the Port of Oakland
— Betty Yu (@bett_yu) November 4, 2023
Footage of the protest was captured by local news outlets, showing a small crowd of activists near the ship, as well as a larger group blocking off the entrance to the ship’s berth. A total of 200 people reportedly attended the event.
Though a US Coast Guard negotiator reportedly attempted to persuade protesters to leave the vessel, the effort failed.
The demonstrators were removed from the ship around 3pm local time, with the protest group saying three members were detained by the Coast Guard, which has federal jurisdiction over the waters. The Oakland Police noted that it monitored the action, but said it made no arrests.
Given the ongoing probe, Coast Guard spokesman Hunter Schnabel declined to offer details on the case, but said that “multiple individuals are currently under investigation” in connection to Friday’s protest.
Activists said they hoped the action would have an impact on US lawmakers, who are now considering more than $14 billion in military aid for Israel. The assistance passed through the House on Thursday, and now must clear final hurdles in the Senate.
Similar pro-Palestine protests have erupted across the US in recent weeks. During a Senate hearing on Tuesday, a group of demonstrators disrupted the event, some interrupting Secretary of State Antony Blinken as he testified in support of increased military aid to Israel.
The latest flare-up in Gaza followed a deadly Hamas terrorist attack on October 7, with Israel launching weeks of heavy airstrikes and a ground assault in retaliation. Some 1,400 Israelis have been killed in the fighting, in addition to more than 9,000 Palestinians, according to local officials.