A sector of workers at the port of Livorno in Italy, organized as part of the Union Sindicale di Base (USB, one of Italy’s rank-and-file unions), denounced the arrival of the Asiatic Island, a ship destined for Israel and carrying weapons. The dockworkers, fearing that additional military materiel would be loaded onto the ship, spread the news and alerted regulatory authorities about this case of weapons trafficking — which is clearly aimed at supplying the Israeli Defense Forces at the moment of a brutal campaign of aggression against the Palestinian people.
— USB Sindacato (@usbsindacato) May 14, 2021
Port of Livorno workers say: Halt weapons for killing Palestinians!
The Livorno dockworkers, who learned about the ship from their colleagues organized in the Collettivo Autonomo Lavoratori Portuali (CALP, Autonomous Port Workers Collective) in Genoa, called a strike for Saturday, May 15 — joining, in their capacity as workers, in the activism that has erupted as a wave of indignation and mobilizations in streets around the world, including throughout Italy. In Milan, thousands of people had already filled Piazza Duomo, and on Saturday dozens of demonstrations were held across the country as part of an international day of solidarity with the Palestinian people who are under attack. These demonstrations were called by Palestinian organizations in Italy, along with sectors of the trade union movement and the Left.
The Weapon Watch, a Genoa-based group that monitors shipments of weapons through European and Mediterranean ports, had issued a press release regarding the ship, which flies the flag of Singapore. Loaded with “high-precision rockets,” it was reported to have come from Marseille, France to Genoa, and was then bound for Livorno and Naples, with ultimate delivery in the two Israeli ports of Ashdod and Haifa. The organization indicated that the loading took place without the ship docking in port, in the Dangerous Goods zone, as required by law. The ship is a typical “feeder” — a small container ship — that operates as part of the scheduled service of ZIM, the Israeli state-owned shipping company. According to The Weapon Watch, ZIM ships regularly load in the port of Genoa.
USB, in a press release, denounced the entire operation, noting the ship’s destination of Ashdod. It demanded that the Port Authority, the harbormaster, and border authorities check the ship’s cargo, along with the dozens of armored military vehicles that were, apparently, waiting to be loaded in the harbor. Upon further investigation, the union was able to confirm that no military materiel would have been loaded on the ship had it called at Livorno, but demanded not only that the government clarify publicly whether authorization for the ship’s cargo had been granted and that all such shipments to Israel be halted.
In the press release announcing Saturday’s strike, USB and CALP declared it was
in solidarity with the Palestinian people and to demand an immediate end to the bombing of Gaza, as well as an end to the “expropriation” of Palestinian homes that have been under military occupation for years.
In Naples, the final Italian port of call for the Asiatic Island, thousands of people marched across the city to the port, and the dockworkers there — part of the SI Cobas rank-and-file union — issued a statement in full solidarity with the struggle against the transport of weapons. It denounced the full complicity with Zionist aggression of nearly every political party in Italy’s parliament.
Recent blockades of ports and strikes by dockworkers are examples of the class solidarity that can help stop the export of weapons to countries, where they are used to wage war and carry out massacres — just as we are seeing today in Palestine. The warnings and denunciations about ship cargoes that come from independent monitoring organizations are important, but it is strikes of workers in the transportation sector — based on that information — that show the strength we have to stop states like Israel from using those weapons. These also strike a blow against the European arms industry, one of the world’s main producers of weaponry, and against the means of repressing the world’s oppressed peoples.
Without these actions, these cargoes of death would never encounter genuine, concrete resistance as they make their way to the world’s war zones.
Originally published in Italian on May 15 at La Voce Delle Lotte.
Translation by Scott Cooper