The stevedores’ union at the Port of Barcelona has announced its refusal to handle military materials in response to the ongoing conflict in Gaza, calling for the safeguarding of civilians in war zones.
This stance, taken on Monday, mirrors a previous action by Belgian transport unions and is primarily a symbolic gesture aimed at prompting other Spanish ports to take similar measures, according to Josep Maria Deop, the OEPB union’s secretary, in a conversation with Reuters on Tuesday.
Representing all 1,200 stevedores at the Port of Barcelona, the OEPB is currently the sole union. Deop highlighted the possibility of peace advocacy groups assisting the union in identifying containers loaded with military cargo.
He expressed his belief that the Port of Barcelona, known for its diverse cargo handling, does have military consignments.
The specifics of these assisting organizations, their identity, and their agreement to support the union’s initiative remained unclear.
The Port Authority of Barcelona did not respond to requests for comment and reported no data on military cargoes.
Following attacks on Israeli towns by Hamas on Oct. 7, which resulted in 1,400 fatalities and 240 people being kidnapped, Israeli forces have been striking Hamas targets in Gaza. According to health officials in Gaza, over 10,000 individuals have died due to the ensuing Israeli retaliation.
Spain’s first-half exports of military equipment in 2022 amounted to 1.3 billion euros, of which 9 million euros were directed to Israel, based on the most recent official figures.
The Spanish government has no plans to export lethal military equipment for use in the Israel-Hamas conflict, as reported last week by the state-run EFE news agency, citing governmental sources.
The OEPB has publicly declared its opposition to all forms of violence, including in Israel and Palestinian territories, emphasizing that its boycott is intended to shield civilians in any location.
The union has a history of such boycotts, with a comparable stance adopted in 2011 during the Libyan conflict. Additionally, the Barcelona dockworkers have previously engaged in shipping humanitarian aid to Western Sahara and Nicaragua.