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Delays expected after police intervene to remove demonstrators from port

Delays expected after police intervene to remove demonstrators from port

Ships blocked from transporting goods from a Melbourne port by a pro-Palestinian protest will resume operation after police intervened to remove activists on Monday.

Fiery clashes erupted between police and protestors who blockaded a terminal at the Port of Melbourne for four days, as part of a targeted campaign to prevent ships from reaching Israel.

More than 200 police officers, including some on horseback, were deployed on Monday after tensions escalated, following a request from port operators to have the protestors removed.

Victoria Police say they used pepper spray to disperse the crowd when it swelled from about 40 to 120 people. Nine people were charged with trespassing and one person is expected to be charged with criminal damage on Tuesday.

Activists claim the police were heavy-handed and overzealous in their use of pepper spray, with Melbourne Activist Legal Support referring the complaint to police command.


Volunteers who attended the demonstration say pepper spray was used against people who didn’t present a direct threat and, in one instance, police dragged a person out of their wheelchair.

The group said it had referred its complaints to several law firms and a more detailed statement of concern would be released to police command and the Victorian Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commission.

The protestors were targeting ships carrying Israeli-owned cargo company ZIM’s containers, which they say are being used to deliver weapons and other goods to Israel to support their offensive in Gaza. This masthead has not seen evidence that the containers are being used to transport weapons to the Middle East. ZIM has been contacted for comment.

A large police presence is expected at the port throughout the day to stop protestors from returning and resuming the blockade.


Hundreds of the port’s staff had been unable to work while protestors prevented them from entering the site. Transport operators were awaiting advice from the Victorian International Container Terminal, where the blockade had taken place, on whether trucks could access the port on Tuesday morning.

A ZIM vessel that arrived in the port on Friday has now been scheduled to depart on Tuesday evening, while another two vessels shipping ZIM containers are set to depart in the next 48 hours.

The terminal’s chief executive officer, Bruno Porchietto, said the demonstration had prevented six vessels from different countries from operating out of the port.

Roughly 50,000 containers had been stopped from leaving since Friday and delays would be ongoing for some time, Porchietto told ABC.

Police were called to intervene after pro-Palestine blockaded the Port of Melbourne for several days.

Police were called to intervene after pro-Palestine blockaded the Port of Melbourne for several days.Credit: NIne News

“Yesterday we were finally set free from an occupation of private property,” he said.

“The Australian economy has been damaged really badly by people who claim they support the cause overseas that doesn’t have anything to do with it, with what’s happening in the port.

“We have to recover, those three days are lost.”

Police said in a statement the blockade had gone on so long because, without a request from property owners, they had not been authorised to intervene.

Porchietto said he had contacted Port of Melbourne to have police intervene over the weekend but had been told police did not have the resources. He said he was unaware that he should have contacted police directly.

“The chain of communication was not followed properly,” he said.

“Police did a fantastic job in moving out those people which are pretty aggressive, and it did this very smoothly with basically no violence.”

A demonstrator from the blockade will speak about the police intervention during a planned protest at Flagstaff Gardens on Tuesday.

A group, calling on the City of Melbourne to act to condemn attacks on Gaza, will meet at the gardens from 6pm.

More than 20,000 Palestinians in Gaza have been reported killed since Israel began bombing the territory after Hamas’s October 7 attacks.

Free Palestine Melbourne said the council should publicly display the Palestinian flag for six months and cancel contracts with companies that support Israel’s offensive.

In a statement, Port of Melbourne said the safe operation of the port and the movement of goods for Victorians was their priorities.

“We are aware of congestion at the port and are working to mitigate the effects.” they said.

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