Pro-Palestinian Protesters Block Israel-Bound Military Ship in Tacoma

cross-posted from Newsweek

Pro-Palestinian protesters descended on a port in Washington in an attempt to block the purported shipment of United States weapons to Israel.

Over 100 protesters gathered at the Port of Tacoma early on Monday morning for a “block the boat” demonstration. An earlier protest organized by the same group, the Arab Resource and Organizing Center (AROC), also attempted to block the ship from leaving the Port of Oakland in California days earlier.

Protests against U.S. aid to Israel have been ramping up as the Israel-Hamas conflict continues. Israel has come under increasing international pressure to enact a ceasefire or a humanitarian pause since launching a ground assault on Gaza.

The Gaza Health Ministry says that over 10,000 Palestinians have been killed in the conflict as of Monday, according to the Associated Press. Israeli officials report that over 1,400 people were killed in Israel, mainly during the initial surprise attack by Hamas on October 7, the AP said.

Videos of the protest in Tacoma shared on X, formerly Twitter, showed a large crowd chanting “free Palestine” and “justice” while marching near the port on Monday morning.

Protesters were reportedly working to cause a traffic jam and block gates that could be used to load the MV Cape Orlando, which AROC claimed would “be loaded with weapons and military equipment in Tacoma” before heading to “a final destination in Israel.”

Newsweek was unable to verify AROC’s claims about the MV Cape Orlando, although the vessel is a cargo ship that is used by the U.S. military‘s Ready Reserve Fleet.

“The Department of Defense [DoD] is aware of the incidents in question—and we work closely with interagency partners, to include the Department of Transportation, the U.S. Coast Guard and local law enforcement—as appropriate—to ensure the security and safety of military assets and personnel operating at commercial port facilities,” Pentagon spokesperson Jeff Jurgensen said in a statement emailed to Newsweek.

“The vessel is currently under the operational control of U.S. Navy’s Military Sealift Command and is supporting the movement of U.S. military cargo,” he added. “Due to operational security, DoD does not provide further transportation, movement details or information regarding the cargo embarked on these vessels. We have no further information to provide at this time.”

Newsweek reached out to the Port of Tacoma and the U.S. Coast Guard for comment via email on Monday.

Other images shared from the protest showed demonstrators holding signs featuring messages including “no aid for Israel,” “free all Palestinian prisoners,” and the controversial slogan “from the river to the sea.”

Real Change staff reporter Guy Oron said in a post on X that more than 500 people had joined in the protest.

Another post by the Tacoma chapter of the Democratic Socialists of America advertised early morning “block the boat solidarity shuttles” to ferry protesters to the port on Monday.

AROC executive director Lara Kiswani, a Palestinian-American, previously told San Francisco ABC affiliate KGO-TV that she hoped “workers in Tacoma will not load that military cargo” and that the “people of Tacoma will show up to protest this genocide.”

“We’re hoping… workers around the world will continue to stop ships like this anywhere they may be found,” she said. “We are simply trying to call for an immediate cease-fire and stop the aiding of the genocide of my people.”

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