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Belgian transport workers boycott Israeli arms shipments

Activists call for block on military equipment to spread

BELGIAN transport workers have refused to load and unload weapons going to Israel.

The boycott that began on Tuesday accompanied growing international pressure for a ceasefire today.

Five Belgian transport unions, ACV Puls, BTB, BGTK and ACV–Transcom, said in a joint statement that they were demanding an immediate ceasefire in Gaza to put an end the “genocide” under way in Palestine.

The unions said they were refusing to load or unload weapons at ports because the weapons “provide organisations with the ability to kill innocent people.”

They said: “While a genocide is under way in Palestine, workers at various airports in Belgium are seeing arms shipments [headed] in the direction of the war zone,” and that loading or offloading these weapons would mean contributing to killing innocent people. 

“As unions, we stand with those who campaign for peace,” they said.

Peace campaigners welcomed the move, with Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament general secretary Kate Hudson telling the Morning Star that British factories should follow suit.

She said: “It’s time for the workers in British factories that make weapons, or parts of weapons, used in Palestine, and for the trade unions that organise in those factories, to lay down their tools. To refuse to make the weapons that kill our brothers and sisters in Palestine.”

Hackney North and Stoke Newington MP Diane Abbott congratulated the Belgian transport workers and said: “Other workers around the world should follow their example.”

The action by the Belgian transport workers comes amid a global wave of protests calling for a ceasefire to put an end to Israel’s war crimes against Palestinians in Gaza.

Fiona Edwards of the No Cold War Britain campaign said just days ago the United Nations adopted a resolution for a ceasefire in Gaza with the support of 140 countries and “it should be implemented without delay.”

MP for Islington North Jeremy Corbyn said: “How many more Palestinians must die before our political leaders call for a ceasefire?”

Thousands of peace activists gathered in the Indian city of Kazhikode in Kerala today for a mass rally organised by the Centre for Indian Trade Unions, the All-India Kisan Sabha, the All India Agricultural Workers Union, the All India Democratic Women’s Association, the Democratic Youth Federation of India and the Students Federation of India.

It follows a wave of protests in the United States, with Jewish activists bringing New York City’s Grand Central Station to a standstill as they demanded an end to the Israeli assault.

Dozens of activists with women-led anti-war organisation Code Pink interrupted US Secretary of State Antony Blinken to call for an immediate ceasefire as he gave evidence to a Senate hearing in Washington DC on Tuesday. Protesters standing behind Mr Blinken held up hands stained red, accusing the US secretary of state of having blood on his hands.

Washington is gearing up for what organisers expect to be one of the biggest demonstrations in support of the Palestinians ever seen in the US.

Layan Fuleihan, director of Education at the People’s Forum and one of the team organising the protest, said: “In the US we have seen hundreds of thousands demand an immediate end to the genocidal war against the Palestinian people.

“We are going to take to the streets on Saturday to make sure Joe Biden and the US administration, the primary funders of the Israeli operation, can no longer ignore our voices.”

Palestine solidarity campaigners have called for a focus on local demonstrations this weekend to raise community pressure on politicians, though a central London rally is planned for 3pm on Saturday in Trafalgar Square, while organisers including the Palestine Solidarity Campaign, Stop the War, CND and the Muslim Association of Britain plan another mammoth march in London for Saturday November 11.

In Denmark, activists have collected more than 56,000 signatures in a petition condemning Israeli war crimes and calling for a political solution to that conflict.

The inability of the United Nations to stop the Israeli attacks has led the director of the New York office of the UN high commissioner for human rights, Craig Mokhiber, to step down.

Mr Mokhiber said what was happening in Gaza was a “textbook case of genocide.” 

In his letter to the high commissioner, Volker Turk, Mr Mokhiber added: “We must support the establishment of a single, democratic secular state in all of historic Palestine with equal rights for Christians, Muslims and Jews” and the “dismantling of the deeply racist, settler colonial project and an end to apartheid across the land.”

Meanwhile Bolivia became the first Latin American nation to sever diplomatic links with Israel describing the Israeli assault in Gaza as “aggressive and disproportionate.”

Israeli official Lior Haiat hit back and accused La Paz of surrendering to terrorism and “aligning itself with the Hamas terrorist organisation.”

Israel has continued to pound Gaza in what an increasing number of observers have labelled as “collective punishment.”

Palestinians reported another widespread outage of internet and phone services in Gaza earlier today, hours after Israeli air strikes levelled apartment buildings near Gaza City and as ground troops battled Hamas fighters inside the besieged territory.

Palestinian telecoms company Paltel reported a “complete disruption” of internet and mobile phone services in Gaza, marking the second time in five days that residents were largely cut off from the world. 

A communications blackout over the weekend came ahead of what Palestinians on the ground later described as some of the fiercest Israeli attacks.

Humanitarian aid agencies have warned that such blackouts severely disrupt their work in an already dire situation in Gaza, where more than half of the population of 2.3 million Palestinians has been displaced and where food, water and fuel have all but run out.

The Israelis say that over 1,400 people have died on their side since the surprise Hamas uprising on October 7, reporting 11 soldiers killed in action on Tuesday.

The Gaza Health Ministry say more than 8,500 Palestinians have been killed, mostly women and children, although thousands more are believed to be trapped or dead beneath the rubble of targeted buildings. 

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