Sweden ports to block Israel ships, goods in response to Gaza flotilla takeover

Haaretz, 05.06.10

Week-long ban is initiated by Swedish Port Workers Union, who says act is reaction to the 'unprecedented criminal attack on the peaceful ship convoy.'


Swedish dockworkers will launch a weeklong blockade of Israeli ships and goods arriving in the Nordic nation to protest Monday's attack on a Gaza-destined aid flotilla.

Nine activists died after Israeli troops intercepted the convoy.

Swedish Port Workers Union spokesman Peter Annerback says workers will refuse to handle Israeli goods and ships during the June 15-24 blockade. The union has some 1,500 members and supports Ship to Gaza, which took part in the flotilla.

It says the reason for the blockade is "the unprecedented criminal attack on the peaceful ship convoy."

It was unclear Saturday how much the blockade would affect trade between the two countries since the union still needs to identify cargos with Israeli origin.

Earlier Saturday, thousands of Australian demonstrators flocked to Sydney's Town Hall Saturday to protest Israel's lethal raid on a flotilla headed for Gaza last week.

An Israeli flag was burnt as demonstrators mostly from Sydney's large Turkish and Lebanese communities railed against the Jewish state.

Huseyin Erbis, 28, told Australia's AAP news agency that Israel deserved international censure for the blockade of Gaza and its effect on Palestinians.

"They criticize the Muslims but really our prophet was always kind to the Jewish people," he said.

The Sydney protest was replicated in cities around Australia.

Anti-U.S., Israel demonstrations had also taken palce in several New Zealand cities, as Pro-Palestinian protestors set fire to flags of
Israel and the United States.

The throwing of shoes has become a symbol of opposition to US and Israeli policy in the Middle East, following the example of an Iraqi journalist who threw one at then-president George W Bush during a press conference in December 2008.

"The sole of the shoe is dirty and holding it up that to a person or a place is an insult," John Minto, protest leader of the Global Peace and Justice organisation, told reporters.

He said it was the Middle East equivalent of the biggest traditional insult of New Zealand's indigenous Maoris - baring the buttocks

Up to 300 protestors marched through Auckland urging the government to expel Israel's ambassador in protest at last week's action by Israeli forces against a peace flotilla en route to Gaza.

Similar demonstrations were reported in Wellington, Christchurch and Dunedin.