Block the Boat Tampa protest on October 11

btbBy Bailey Riley

On July 8, Israel launched Operation Protective Edge; the operation was in direct response to a kidnapping and murder of three Israeli teenagers by two members of the militant Islamic group Hamas.

The operation was launched on the Gaza Strip, which is controlled by Hamas. Ultimately, the massacre, which was only one of many prompted by Israel within the past 60 years, ended with an open-ended ceasefire on August 26.

Despite this, 34 tunnels in Gaza were destroyed, upwards of 2,100 Gazans, overwhelmingly civilian, were killed (compared to 66 Israeli soldiers and 5 civilians), 520,000 (30 percent of the population) Gazans were displaced, 17,200 Gazan homes were obliterated, and approximately 5,000–8,000 Israelis were displaced. As if this wasn’t enough, the Israeli Defense Forces shelled UN refugee shelters in Gaza, and bombed hospitals and the only working power plant.

This genocide in Israel is not new. This has been happening for 66 years, but especially since the continued occupation (militarily and economically) which began in 1967. Many Palestinian-led organizations and solidarity groups have arisen from the atrocities Israel continues to commit. In 2005, a movement called Boycott, Divestment, and Sanction (BDS) was called for by Palestinians. BDS is a campaign focused on isolating Israel economically; the three terms which BDS stands for are all tactics to achieve this goal, and they are accessible to the average consumer. The BDS movement urges various forms of boycott against Israel until it meets its obligations under international law, including: ending the occupation and colonization of all Arab lands occupied in June 1967 and dismantling the Wall; recognizing the fundamental rights of the Arab-Palestinian citizens of Israel to full equality; and respecting the rights of Palestinian refugees to return to their homes and properties as stipulated in UN Resolution 194.

Block the Boat as a movement began in Oakland as a response to Operation Protective Edge. They didn’t know they were setting kindling for such a great fire, but many major port cities followed. 2,500 people gathered outside the port of Oakland on Aug. 16 to block the Israeli Zim ship from unloading cargo onto California’s shores.

Zim is Israel’s largest international shipping company and the tenth largest worldwide. What the ship carries is of little consequence in reference to this, because much of it is coming from international companies, but Israel reaps huge profits.

Every hour the ships are delayed costs them thousands of dollars in fuel and labor, at the very least, so holding them off is a significant threat. That day on Aug. 16, Oakland managed to block the ship for four days, the longest blockade of an Israeli ship in history.

Oakland set fire to the hearts of many Palestinians and their allies, and thus awoke a massive campaign to cease Zim from entering many major port cities in the United States. The organizers of Block the Boat Tampa followed suit of several other cities in attempting to show their solidarity with Palestinians. To date, the Tampa chapter has organized three protests, two past, and one forthcoming on Oct. 11.

On the morning of Sept. 20, the ship had a docking delay of 12 hours and an unloading delay of 7–8, but the cause was precarious.  The Zim Alabama is scheduled to berth in Tampa every three weeks.  There is a sustained campaign working against the Israeli shipping company.  They won’t stop until Israel stops the illegal, unjustified, and abhorrent occupation of Palestine. The Block the Boat movement is a part of the larger BDS movement called for by Palestinians.

Those in Palestine living in occupied territory, who live daily with the threat of death looming over them like thick fog, have voiced thorough support for this movement and have called for a continuation of the tactic. Block the Boat Tampa has a whole host of organizations who support them, but they need all the numbers they can get.

We all need to stand with Palestinians, from Gaza to the West Bank, and make obvious our condemnation for Israeli apartheid and the United States’ funding, support, and complicity of mass genocide throughout the state of Palestine.

For more information, please check out:, or check out our Facebook page: Block the Boat Tampa, where you can find out more information about our next blockade actions, what you can do to support us, etc.

Email us at: if you have specific questions or comments. Join us in resisting Israeli violence and U.S. adherence!

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