Palestinian protesters stop ZIM ship, 17 arrested

March 25, 2024
Peaceful assembly being broken up by police at Port Botany. Photo: Aman Kapur

A community assembly at Port Botany to target the operations of the Israeli ZIM shipping line on March 24 was violently broken up by NSW Police.  

The assembly managed to delay the shift change, but just after 9.30pm, police started assaulting of more than 300 Palestinian activists and arrested 17 peaceful protesters.

Among those arrested were Paul Keating, the Maritime Union Australia (MUA) Sydney branch secretary, Shane Reside, MUA organiser and other MUA delegates.

People were taken to Surry Hills Police Station, questioned and held in cells overnight.

The Port Botany action was called by Palestine Justice Movement Sydney (PJMS) and Trade Unionists for Palestine.

PJMS activist Ahmed Abdala said Australia must “immediately cut all ties — military, economic, diplomatic ties — with the state of Israel".

“ZIM is a direct apartheid enabler, so has no place anywhere in Australian ports.”


Photo: Aman Kapur

Keating said his union stands with the people of Palestine and called on all union leaders to stand up and fight for the people of Palestine.

NSW Greens Senator Faruqi said it was criminal that Labor is “doing nothing” to stop the genocide and starvation. She accused Labor of “aiding and abetting Israel”, saying: “We will not shy away from our democratic right to protest because we are on the right side of history”.

ZIM has a history of supplying the Israeli Defense Forces’ occupation of Palestine and it has made statements supporting the current genocide.

It runs commercial cargo operations across the world, including in major Australian ports.

The international “block the boat” campaign targets weapons and commercial supply chains to Israel and is prioritising ZIM actions. Malaysia banned ZIM from docking in its ports last December.

The arrests in Port Botany followed arrests of three activists at the Gadigal/Sydney rally for Palestine on March 23.

A group of people, dressed in white, staged a peaceful “die-in” as they were sprayed with red-coloured water. Police charged three people with “assault” after drops of red dye unintentionally landed on them.


Photo: Aman Kapur

Lydia Shelly, President of Civil Liberties Council, said the police were out of line. She said Legal Observers New South Wales had seen several police at the Port Botany protest “wearing a patch that is not part of the standard police issued uniform which has been associated with right wing extremism”.

She said the government and police must “work with the community and civil society” to ensure that the right to protest is protected.

She also said the anti-protest laws needed to be repealed to allow people to be able to “exercise their democratic right to engage in protest”.

[Follow Trade Unionists for Palestine for updates and to get involved.] 

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