An Israeli ship that was scheduled to dock at the port of Oakland in California on Saturday remained at sea as between 2,000 and 3,000 pro-Palestinian activists streamed towards the port entrance, chanting and waving flags.
The protesters intended to form a picket line to prevent work crews from unloading the ship.
Activists had originally planned to meet at 5am for a blockade of the Zim Integrated Shipping Services vessel, but word that its arrival had been delayed prompted organisers to push the protest back until later in the afternoon.
The event began with a brief rally at a nearby transit station, followed by a march to the port. Sameh Ayesh, a 21-year-old Palestinian activist with the San Francisco-based Arab Youth Organisation, led the crowd in a chant.
“We’re gonna block the boat,” he called into a megaphone. “Block, block the boat.”
But before the march had even reached the port entrance, an activist who identified himself as Eyad delivered word that the Zim vessel would not be docking that day. An online ship tracking service showed that the vessel was off the coast of California, closer to Santa Cruz, as the march got under way.
Activists interpreted the delay as a victory since the schedule change seemed to have been made in response to the planned pickets. “We have stopped the Zim Piraeus from docking on the west coast of the United States,” said Eyad, of the Arab Resource and Organising Center (Aroc), into a megaphone, drawing cheers from the crowd as the march came to a halt on a bridge leading towards the docks. more