As genocide in Gaza continues

Thousands participate in global protests targeting economic arteries and weapons manufacturers

Anti-genocide protesters block the I-880 in Oakland, California, April 15, 2024. [Photo: @a15action]

On April 15, thousands of peaceful protesters around the world demonstrated against the ongoing US-Israeli genocide in Gaza by blocking traffic on major bridges, roadways, airports, and inside and outside the offices of weapons contractors and government buildings.

As of this writing protests, some involving a few dozen people, while others have drawn in several hundred, have taken place in Melbourne, Australia; Gothenburg, Sweden; Barcelona and Tarragona, Spain; Zwolle and Utrecht, Netherlands; Copenhagen, Denmark; Swalwell, Leeds and London, England; Halifax, Nova Scotia; Ottawa, Ontario; Vancouver, British Columbia; Montreal, Quebec; Minneapolis, Minnesota; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; Chicago, Illinois; New York City; Elizabeth, New Jersey; Eugene, Oregon; Oakland and San Francisco, California; San Antonio, Texas; Washington D.C. and many other cities.

Defying police violence, job loss and “antisemitism” slanders for over six months, millions of people around the world have participated in protests against the US-NATO-backed Israeli genocide in Gaza. Since October 7, the Israeli military, supplied with billions of dollars in bombs, bullets and missiles by the US government, has killed over 33,000 Palestinians, according to the official count by the Gaza Health Ministry, although the true death toll is likely far higher.

On April 11, human rights organization Euro-Med Monitor released a report estimating that in addition to the over 33,000 dead, another 13,000 Palestinians were missing “under debris, buried in indiscriminate mass graves, or forcibly disappeared in Israeli prisons and detention facilities, where some have been been killed.”

The organization divided the missing into four categories: dead buried under the rubble, dead buried in mass graves or “in haphazard individual” graves, those whose bodies have been exhumed by the Israeli military and stolen/relocated, and those whose fate is unknown. The organization had previously documented more than “120 random mass graves.” Recently, the organization working with rescue teams and civil defense crews, recovered 422 Palestinian bodies at the Al-Shifa Medical Complex and in Khan Younis following the temporary withdrawal of the Israeli military.

On Monday, Al Jazeera reported that another mass grave had been discovered at Al-Shifa. Doctors on site were able to identify the bodies of at least 10 patients at the hospital. The doctors told the network that the victims still had “medical bandages and catheters attached to their bodies.”

Outraged over the support of US-NATO governments for the Israeli ethnic cleansing campaign, many of the protesters have specifically targeted their actions to disrupt economic and logistics activity. While some of the protesters were still oriented to appealing to the politicians responsible for the genocide to reconsider, many of the demonstrations targeted ports and major weapons manufacturers, including Elbit Systems, Boeing, Pratt & Whitney, and Day & Zimmerman.

The overall more militant character of Monday’s protest prompted a massive response by the police in several countries.

In Melbourne, Australia, the Australian Associated Press reported that at least 14 people were arrested on Monday. Twelve people were arrested while blocking the road near the Boeing factory in the Port of Melbourne, while another two were arrested for allegedly “tampering with traffic lights in Carlton.”

The news service reported that more than 100 people also protested against British Petroleum (BP) oil company. More than 50 people also demonstrated outside the Ferra Engineering facility in Brisbane. Ferra Engineering has been repeatedly targeted by protesters, as it is the sole supplier of a mechanism used in the bomb delivery system of the F-35 fighter jet.

In Halifax, Nova Scotia, CTV News reported that police arrested 21 people at a protest held at the intersection of Terminal Road and Hollis Street. All the protesters are facing obstruction charges, while some have also been cited for “failure to use a sidewalk and failure to obey a police officer.”

In the United States, at least 25 people were arrested for blocking the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco for several hours.

Loading Tweet ...
Tweet not loading? See it directly on Twitter

In the midst of the blockade, Fox News brought on fascistic Arkansas Senator Tom Cotton to stoke vigilante violence against the peaceful protesters.

“If something like this happened in Arkansas on a bridge there,” Cotton threatened, “let’s just say I think there would be a lot of very wet criminals that had been tossed overboard, not by law enforcement, but by the people, whose road they are blocking.”

Cotton, who endorsed Donald Trump for president in January, added that if protesters “glued their hands to the car or to the pavement, well it would be pretty painful to have their skin ripped off, but I think that is the way we would handle it in Arkansas.

“I would encourage most people anywhere that gets stuck behind criminals like this who are trying to block traffic to take matters into their own hands,” he added, concluding his menacing remarks with a demand to “put an end to this nonsense.”

Perhaps heeding the senator’s words, in Chicago, over 90 people were arrested for blocking roadways around the city, including outside O’Hare International Airport. Reporting from downtown Chicago Wednesday evening, World Socialist Web Site writer Andy Thompson observed that Chicago police had “kettled in a crowd of youth” and that the police were blocking their “efforts to march.”

Loading Tweet ...
Tweet not loading? See it directly on Twitter

In Detroit, Michigan, four protesters were arrested and 38 citations were issued in response to a 60-vehicle convoy that attempted to demonstrate on the Ambassador Bridge, which connects Detroit with Windsor, Ontario.

In Middletown, Connecticut Monday morning, at least 10 protesters were arrested for blocking the road outside the Pratt & Whitney factory. In a statement, the protesters, said they chose the location because “Pratt & Whitney produces the engines used in multiple Israeli warplanes that bomb Gaza and massacre Palestinians every day, including engines produced and tested at the Middletown facility.”

The protesters wrote that the company has been supplying Israel with military aircraft since 1947. They said that while they were “independent,” their action was in solidarity with “A15 Action.”

Many of Monday’s protests were organized by or called in solidarity with A15 Action. On their website, the group called for a “coordinated economic blockade to Free Palestine,” writing that the “global economy is complicit in genocide.”

The group called for protests and blockades at “major choke points in the economy, focusing on points of production and circulation with the aim of causing the most economic impact, as did the port shutdown in recent months in Oakland, California and Melbourne, Australia.”

Expressing the growing recognition by millions of people that protests to the politicians responsible for funding and executing the genocide have failed, the group noted, “There is a sense in the streets ... that escalation has become necessary: there is a need to shift from symbolic actions to those that cause pain to the economy.”

Selecting April 15, the final day to file taxes in the United States, in order to draw attention to the billions the US government provides the Israeli military every year, the group called for actions to “disrupt and blockade economic logical hubs and the flow of capital.”

While Monday’s protest were not as large as many of the others that have occurred over the last half year, the global character of the protests, coupled with their militant character, is a testament to the still-widespread and deep-seated anger felt by millions of people around the world who are repulsed by the US and its allies’ unstinting support for Israeli war crimes.

The Socialist Equality Party is fighting to develop a movement in the working class that is aimed at stopping the genocide in Gaza and the drive to World War III. This can only be done by uniting the international working class in a mass movement to put an end to the capitalist system and replace it with socialism.