This story was updated on Nov. 4 with more information about the ship Cape Orlando.
Over 100 protesters converged on the Port of Oakland Friday morning to rally for a ceasefire in the ongoing conflict between Israel and Hamas.
Over the past three weeks, Israeli forces have been carrying out military actions in the Gaza Strip, home to roughly two million Palestinians. These actions have come in response to an Oct. 7 attack by Hamas on southern Israel and the taking of 240 hostages. All of these attacks and military actions have resulted in civilian deaths, displacement, and terror.
Protest organizers with the Arab Resource Organizing Center said that a ship docked at the port, the Cape Orlando, is helping deliver military supplies to Israel. Shortly after 9 a.m., some protesters entered port property and attempted to climb aboard the ship.
A small group of Oakland police and Coast Guard officers responded to the protests but no arrests were reported. “So far there has been no disruption to port operations and no impact on the flow of commerce at the Oakland Seaport,” port spokesperson Marilyn Sandifur said.
“This is a military vessel that is shipping weapons to Israel,” said Wael Vuhaissy, who was taking part in the rally. “We’re here to disrupt that.” Vuhaissy said AROC was tipped off by port workers “who had the conscience to not want to be part of” the war. He said he was motivated to take part in Friday’s protest because his cousin’s family was killed in an Israeli airstrike.
A spokesperson for the U.S. Coast Guard, Petty Officer Hunter Schnabel, said the ship is part of the Department of Defense Maritime Administration, an agency that moves military supplies around the world. However, he could not confirm whether it’s scheduled to ship supplies to Israel.
According to the federal Department of Transportation Maritime Administration, the agency that operates the ship, the Cape Orlando is currently in service and was used to ship military supplies to U.S. forces in Iraq in the early 2000s and more recently to conduct other shipments and take part in training exercises. It is part of the Defense Department’s ready reserve fleet of cargo ships used to move supplies to war zones.
Schnabel said that Coast Guard staff who responded to the protest were there to ensure safety.
Late on Friday, the Cape Orlando left the Port of Oakland and sailed out of the Bay. As of Saturday morning, the ship was cruising northward off of the Sonoma County coast, according to a vessel-tracking website.
Protesters told The Oaklandside that they believe the ship is supposed to be headed to Tacoma, Washington where it will pick up military supplies.
A video posted last year on the U.S. Army’s website shows the Cape Orlando being used to transport military vehicles from the Port of Oakland.
Since Oct. 7, Bay Area residents have gathered at vigils to mourn the Hamas assault on Israel that killed approximately 1,400 people and to demand that Hamas release hostages it abducted. Large protests have also been held in San Francisco, Oakland, and across the U.S. and world, calling for Israel to cease or pause military operations in Gaza, including air strikes that have killed approximately 9,000 people.