Disruption Warning for Roads, Trains, Ports Due to Pro-Palestine Protests

Police and shipping operators are bracing for parts of the city and the Port of Melbourne – Australia’s busiest port – to be shut down on Monday as part of a global protest over Israel’s continued military assaults in Gaza.

The groups behind Monday’s so-called A15 Action have threatened to blockade “major choke points in the economy” around the globe, with the aim of “causing the most economic impact”, the event’s organising website said. It calls on participants to act in solidarity “in the face of attacks from the media, politicians and the police”.

Locations targeted for possible blockades or shutdowns could include train stations, major roads and the offices of companies linked to dealings in Israel, law enforcement and activist sources told this masthead on condition of anonymity to discuss confidential details.

To deal with the potential disruption, Victoria Police will activate its State Police Operations Centre. It is the first time the emergency management control facility has been used since thousands attended Melbourne’s anti-lockdown protests in 2021.

The plan for Monday is for participants in at least 30 cities worldwide to seek to shut down key transport hubs, ports and other business centres.

The A15 rallies were “expected to involve a range of protest groups, none of which have provided the locations of the protests to Victoria Police”, a police spokeswoman said.

In preparation, hundreds of police will be redeployed to central Melbourne from suburban and regional stations, leading to the closure of some 24-hour stations.

Police specialist teams to be deployed to Monday’s protests will include the mounted branch, public order response team, highway patrol and transit police.

The aim of the protests is to support Palestinians in Gaza, now in the seventh month of a bloody conflict sparked by Hamas’ October 7 terror attacks in which 1200 people were killed, according to Israeli authorities. Israel’s response to the attacks has killed more than 33,000 Palestinians, the Gazan Health Ministry says.

While some groups have declared their intended A15 protest sites on social media, others are keeping the locations of their planned actions secret to cause maximum disruption.

There are protests planned in Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane, and in regional cities such as Geelong and Bendigo.

A Melbourne-based community organiser from one of the groups involved in planning Monday’s protests said the aim was to hurt the economy.

“People are starting to get very frustrated about the genocide in Palestine,” said Nathalie, who asked to be referred to only by her first name.

“We’ve rallied, there’s been petitions, social-media campaigns, we’ve written letters – but it’s been six months and the situation is worse than ever.

“Because the government is not listening, they need to get the message where it hurts, which is in their pockets. There needs to be disruption to the economy.”

Protest organisers are also calling on people who don’t wish to demonstrate or blockade to avoid spending money on April 15.

“Don’t spend. Withdraw from the economy for the day.”
A video posted on Instagram promoting the planned protests cited a recent rally in Melbourne as an example of how port shutdowns globally had caused economic damage, alongside disruptions in the United States.

On Thursday, Israeli shipping line Zim docked one of its cargo ships, the Sparrow, at Melbourne’s Webb Dock, prompting warnings from port operators that it could be a target.

In January, protesters attempted to hamper a Zim container ship unloading at the Port of Melbourne. Victoria Police used pepper spray to break up the blockade at Webb Dock, which is one of the sites for Monday’s planned action.

When the Sparrow visited Melbourne in January, it had the name Zim displayed on the ship’s side. The shipping line recently removed Zim from the Sparrow and two other ships, Ganges and Danube.

A spokeswoman for the Port of Melbourne said on Thursday that there was no current protest activity at the port, but that “necessary steps are being taken given the short time between the Zim Sparrow berthing and the A15 campaign” on Monday.

She said the port would put on “additional security resources and increased security patrols” ahead of Monday’s protest and was working with Victoria Police to prepare.

Neil Chambers, director of freight group the Container Transport Alliance Australia, said it was important that the protests planned to hit the docks were not as disruptive as those in January, Police use pepper spray during January’s protests at the Port of Melbourne. NINE NEWS when Webb Dock was shut for three days.

“That terminal handles a little over a third of the containers [passing through Melbourne],” he said.
Chambers said the targeting of the Zim shipping line’s vessels at the Port of Melbourne was misguided.

“These ships go nowhere near Europe and Israel – they trade between Asia and Australia.”


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