OAKLAND (CBS SF/BCN) — Hundreds of demonstrators protested the arrival Friday morning at the Port of Oakland of an Israeli ship from Asia as part of an effort to support Palestinians in their conflict with Israel, according to organizers and port officials.

The protesters carried signs and waved the Palestinian flags outside the port, blocking truck traffic from four marine terminals.

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“We will no longer sit and watch as the Israeli government massacres Palestinians, as it continues 73 years of colonization of dispossession of ethnic cleansing of the Palestinian people,” said Mohamed Shehk of the Arab Resource and Organizing Center.

A number of truck drivers blared their horns in support of the gathering, with participants calling for an economic boycott of Israel after the 11-day Israeli-Palestinian armed conflict.

ILWU Local 10 President Trent Willis said while he and dozens of other longshoremen couldn’t work, he supports the demonstrators and said it’s their right.

“We dispatched to jobs today, as normal. We came out here and there were protesters out here,’ said Willis. “What needs to happen is a discussion that solves problems, not discussions that create more problems.”

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A spokesperson for the Port of Oakland sent a statement saying in part while it supports free speech, “Preventing commerce, jeopardizing local jobs, and compromising the health future of the port will only hurt Oakland and the region … Many port truck drivers only get paid if they pick up and drop off containers.”

“We’ve declared victory for the morning,” Wassim Hage, a spokesman for the protesters, said at about 9 a.m. from the Port of Oakland.

Hage is with the Arab Resource and Organizing Center, which advocates in the Bay Area for the Palestinian movement and sponsored the protest aimed at stopping workers from unloading the ship.

He said longshoremen honored the protesters’ picket and did not unload the ship. Protesters were set to return to the port at 4 p.m.

 

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