After similar boycott actions in Oakland, California, Norway and South Africa, dockworkers in Sweden have decided to block the import of Israeli goods during the next week.The boycott action was launched on Wednesday by 1500 members of the Swedish Dockworkers Union, affecting 95% of Sweden’s ports. Trade with Israel accounts for just 0.2% of Swedish imports and exports, so the action is largely symbolic, but it could have an impact on the Israeli companies that export to Sweden.
According to a union spokesperson, the boycott action was organized “because of the [Israeli navy’s] assault on the ship to Gaza, that we supported before they took off … and the blockade of the Gaza strip, which affects the civilian population.’
The spokesperson was referring to an Israeli attack on a humanitarian aid convoy on May 31st, in which nine international aid workers were killed and nearly 60 were injured. Participants in the caravan say the attack was unprovoked, and took place in international waters. Although Israel does not deny that the ships were in international waters when the Israeli forces attacked, Israeli authorities claim that they are at war, and that the attack in international waters is thus justified.
The aid convoy was carrying hundreds of tons of humanitarian aid for the people of Gaza, including medical supplies, school supplies and building materials. Israeli occupying authorities have prevented these materials from entering Gaza since 2007, when the democratically-elected Hamas party took power in the Gaza Strip.
Israel announced this past weekend that it would ease some of the restrictions on goods allowed into Gaza, but the blockade remains in place, and the new amounts allowed in are still only a small fraction of the amount that entered before the blockade was put in place.
One Swedish Dockworkers’ Union spokesperson said, ‘We don’t think it is far-reaching enough. We want them to lift the blockade.’
This is not the first time that Swedish dockworkers have engaged in boycott actions against what they see as oppressive regimes. They launched a similar boycott of the notorious dictatorship of Augusto Pinochet in Chile, and of the apartheid regime in South Africa in the 1980s.