A Step-by-step Guide to Taking action

Workers in Palestine International Call to Action

On October 16, Palestinian trade unions called for workers and trade unions around the world to take action to stop the flow of arms to Israel in order to restrain the Israeli war machine and the genocide it is engaging in against the Palestinian people. Dozens of trade unions around the world issued statements heeding the call to stand with the Palestinian people and commit to take action to enforce a ceasefire.

Join us in action and help stop the genocide!

1. What You Can Do

The days of action are focused on three main targets, and engages activists, workers, trade unions, students and educators. 

The days of action call on:

  1. Everyone - to block all factories making and exporting arms to Israel.
  2. Unions and workers - to not manufacture, transport or handle weapons, and/or surveillance tech destined to Israel, and make public statements to that effect. 
  3. Students and educators - to uncover if your university has investments, contracts or cooperation agreements with weapons companies supplying Israel, call them out and organising to cancel them. 

2. How to Get Started on planning an action

  • Research: Research, assess, and select a target: what institution will your action target and what is its relation to Israel and the arms trade? Below, we provide resources and key examples of specific targets. These are not exhaustive by any means but provide some starting points, tools and guidance for how to begin!  
  • Reconnaissance: visit the location to assess what action you can take
  • Worker outreach: Research whether the factory, workplace or target identified is staffed by union workers. Reach out to the workers inside the location and work with them on the action as closely as possible
  • Build coalitions: Bring community groups together in your area!
  • Assess your risk level: Build decision-making processes around risk levels and decide on a collective way to approach tactical diversity or unity.
  • Security: Practice good information security and be careful who you add to your circles of trust. Try to keep discussion of high-risk action to in-person trusted circles. 
  • Action: Delegate roles and plan the action. Reach out to experienced organizers for Know Your Rights, marshalling, legal observer, direct action, and other forms of training.

3. Selecting a Target

To take action, the first thing you need to do is find an appropriate local target where Israeli arms and supportive companies are operating and focus your energy there. We provide key examples, research resources, and strategies for selecting targets below.

The Military Industry

The main countries involved in supplying arms and military goods to Israel are the US, Germany, Italy and the UK. It is possible to take direct action targeting the production of military and surveillance goods in different forms: at sites that directly produce weapons and munitions for the Israeli military, and at plants run by multinational companies that make military goods for Israel elsewhere in the world. 

If you live in the US, UK, Italy, Spain, Belgium or South Africa we have compiled the following introduction to arms production and export for Israel. Use this “Who Arms Israel?” guide to take action. 

We have also compiled further resources: 

  • The F35 supply chain. Trace where the components are made for a fighter jet used by the Israeli military and disrupt its supply chain using this F35 Suppliers spreadsheet.
  • US Foreign Military Sales. This spreadsheet of defense contractors contains details on every US arms export licensed through its Foreign Military Sales programme, the primary contracting companies, export customers and manufacturing sites. NB: there are other mechanisms through which military goods are exported and not all of these licenses have resulted in final export agreements, but search this document for an area near you. 
  • UK arms exports to Israel until 2015 – see information here, here and here.

Transport and logistics

Logistics and transport systems are important conduits that carry commerce and arms to and from Israel. However, it’s important to note that no real-time data exists that allows organizers to track the contents of shipping containers to ascertain what’s inside. This means that there is no way to know ahead of time whether weapons and weapons parts are being imported or exported to or from a port near you and to plan an action that stops those particular shipments. Obtaining advanced information so that activists can “block a vessel carrying weapons to Israel” is not usually possible except under exceptional circumstances of special access to this information. As a result, there are two things important to understand regarding weapons shipments:

First, understand the difference between military and commercial transport: most assembled weapons travel through the military, not commercial supply chain. Weapons are not usually transported to Israel by commercial ships (like Maersk, Evergreen, or Israel’s ZIM shipping company). Rather, they travel to Israel on military vessels and planes which take off from military bases rather than commercial ports, often via third party military logistics contractors. Departure and arrival schedules and locations for military shipments are classified information and not publicly available. They are unfortunately nearly impossible to track and predict ahead of time without special access. It is not usually possible to block a military shipment or know where it is going in advance. Any successful actions of this sort have a source of information that is not typically available to the public.

Second, commercial ships mostly carry weapons parts, not assembled weapons. Although most finished military weapons are transported by the military itself, weapons parts, components, and other military materiel can sometimes be transported by sea on board normal commercial container vessels. However, due to the proprietary nature of shipment tracking data, you are not able to find out what specific items are on board a ship unless you are the shipper yourself. In fact, even the sailors and captains on these ships don’t know what they carry unless the goods are marked as toxic or perishable! The public can track shipments in general through various subscription services, but these track past and not current or ongoing data.

What is possible to track are commercial ships as a whole. The key actor in shipping from the US – and elsewhere in the world – to Israel is the ZIM shipping line, and it is possible to track when ZIM ships or containers are coming to and from your country using our Block the Boat primer. ZIM is the main provider of shipping services to Israel and one of the top ten largest shipping lines in the world. Most military supply chains center on Europe and the US with many components produced in Europe and Asia, and final assembly taking place in the US. Military components enter and exit the US via its east coast ports – primarily New York/Newark, Savannah, Charleston, and the Port of Virginia. These ports are typically unionized by the International Longshoremen’s Association, or ILA.

Does ZIM carry arms? Yes and no — but mostly no. Our research team has been able to use our access to US trade databases to observe past and general patterns of shipments via their “bills of lading” — the documents used by shipping lines to identify shipments, and track patterns of deliveries. In rare instances, this can include weapons shipping on civilian vessels. For example, on March 4, 2023 a shipment of “WARHEADS, ROCKET WITH BURSTING CHARGE” produced by Raytheon in Tucson, Arizona and worth $100,000, left the Port of Virginia headed for Haifa, Israel on the ZIM Yokohama containership. Other Raytheon shipments have left on the same route in the following months. In most cases, trade data can identify the routes for component parts of military products. For example, Dunlop regularly ships tires for the F35 and other military aircraft from its factory in Birmingham, UK either via London to the Port of Virginia or via Liverpool to Charleston. Through these patterns, organizers can generally make guesses about which are the most critical ports in their country that are most likely to move military material, and can make claims about the strategic significance of a blockade of ZIM or a port on that bases.

Workers in Palestine sees ZIM ships as a strategic target with key symbolic significance, especially in ports with direct routes to Israel. However, it is important not to mistake ZIM for a transporter of military arms. ZIM is Israel’s commercial shipping company. It is not a military vessel. Block the Boat actions should target ZIM not primarily because it might be carrying weapons, but because it is a viable and important BDS target.  

We also want to stress that from Workers in Palestine’s perspective, pulling off a successful Block the Boat action is about prioritizing trade union solidarity first, and community actions second. This is because port blockades are a highly complex operation requiring coordination with dockers and transport workers, and the cooperation and solidarity of dockers' unions is essential. Therefore, outreach, solidarity, and a commitment to building relations with transport unions is a crucial step in planning a port blockade. We encourage cities interested in Block the Boat actions to prioritize outreach and coordination with their local docker and longshore unions as the first step in planning a blockade

To help you plan for a port blockade, here are some resources:

  • We have produced a primer for planning a Block the Boat action. Although it was written for US-based actions, the methods will be useful for organizers in other locations. It includes step by step instructions for researching ZIM schedules, planning in consultation with longshore unions, and other factors to consider when considering a port blockade. Check the step-by-step Block the Boat primer here.
  • If you live in the US, UK, Italy, Spain, Greece, or Turkey, check whether there are shipping services between your location and Israel using this spreadsheet of ZIM services. If you do not live in any of these countries, check the BTB primer above  for instructions on doing your own research.
  • Successful port blockades require the cooperation of longshoremen, port workers and/or truck drivers to respect a community picket line. In order to receive this cooperation, long term and consistent outreach is an important component of organizing a port blockade. We suggest assembling a port outreach team to do so: successful blockades in LA in 2014 and in Oakland have relied on consistent outreach and solidarity with dockworkers. We have prepared a primer on organizing with trade unions to build solidarity actions here.

Some historical background and information on ZIM shipping company

The ZIM shipping company is crucial to ensuring logistical support for the Israeli state and the IDF. The popularity and success of Block the Boat actions around the world in 2014, 2021, and 2023 have shown the importance of maritime transport and logistics as a crucial channel of capital and commodity flows into Israel, especially through the 139 ships operated by ZIM shipping line.

Historically, ZIM was a state-owned shipping line playing a role in the initial colonization of Palestine. Initially established by the Jewish Agency, the Histadrut Labor Federation, and the Israeli Maritime League, ZIM was an important early symbol of Israeli state power. Before pivoting to container transport in the 1960s, ZIM was primarily a passenger line ferrying Jewish settlers from Europe to Israeli settlements.

Over the last two decades, ZIM has been privatized and listed on the New York Stock Exchange. Despite this, the Israeli state retains veto power in corporate decisions through a “golden share” or “special state share” in the company. This means that shareholder control of ZIM cannot be sold without state permission, and that top ZIM executives must be Israeli citizens. Most importantly, ZIM is required to allow the Israeli state access to 11 ships in the company fleet “in a time of emergency or for national security purposes.”

ZIM’s close links to the Israeli state continue in the current genocide. The company is shoring up its freight revenues by charging an extra “war risk premium” on all cargoes it carries to the Israeli ports of Haifa, Ashdod, and Eilat.

Apart from interrupting the flows of material goods, Block the Boat actions in 2014 also struck a blow at ZIM’s corporate stock price. Since its public listing on Wall Street in 2021, ZIM is more vulnerable than ever to changing shareholder perceptions on company stock value. In 2023, ZIM operated at a net loss of $2 billion. Block the Boat actions on ZIM vessels, even on ships carrying non-military merchandise, can and will impact ZIM’s capacity to raise revenues, protect asset values, and invest in new-built containerships.

Universities and Public Institutions

Some universities have direct connections with military companies through research projects and funding. Additionally, universities procure services from companies that are complicit in the military-industrial complex. Universities also utilize substantial financial resources from endowment plans, foundations, and pension funds to make investments in companies involved in the Israeli occupation. These investments can be direct or indirect, often involving third-party investors like asset management companies or private equity firms such as BlackRock, Vanguard, or Blackstone.

For example, BlackRock owns $27 million worth of shares in Zim Integrated Shipping Services Ltd.. The following universities have endowment or pension plans managed by BlackRock:

  • University of Oxford (Oxford, UK) 
  • University of Manchester (Manchester, UK)
  • Duke University (Durham, NC)
  • University of California (multiple locations, CA)
  • York University (Toronto, ON)
  • University of North Texas (Dallas, TX)
  • University of Southampton (Southampton, UK)
  • University of New Mexico (Albuquerque, NM)

Goldman Sachs owns $15 million worth of shares in Zim Integrated Shipping Services Ltd.. The following universities have endowment or pension plans managed by Goldman Sachs:

  • University of Minnesota (Minnesota, MN)
  • Universities Superannuation Scheme (UK-wide)
  • Carnegie Mellon University (Pittsburgh, PA)
  • University of California (multiple locations, CA)
  • Syracuse University (Syracuse, NY)
  • University of Nevada (Reno, NV)
  • University of New Hampshire (Durham, NH)

If your university is a public institution, information about your university's investments is usually available through university annual reports, budget & planning reports, and bulletins from your office of research. If such information is not readily available, here are some resources:

  • Use Freedom of Information requests for obtaining this data. A large database of previously filed requests is available at Muckrock, or learn to file your own with these resources
  • For US Universities: Consult these guidelines for finding links between the US Department of Defense and your university. You can also search the US Defense Research site for listed contracts
  • For UK universities: A useful resource is the Demilitarise Education website which provides a searchable database of arms investments in UK institutions.

We encourage students, academics and staff to call for universities to

  1. Immediately divest from all arms companies, particularly those supporting Israel's military capabilities.
  2. Encourage universities to conduct thorough reviews of their investment portfolios, excluding companies involved in arming Israel.
  3. Organize university lab workers whose research is funded by military investments to take action. This is a crucial and important step in intervening at the point of production in the university system. A step by step guide for getting started is here

4. Ways of Taking Action

  1. Taking actions at arms factories - raising banners, direct action, disrupting business as usual.
  2. Flyering arms and transport workers and building links with workers and unions in order to build a critical mass able to take action. 
  3. Organising in your workplace, speaking to your colleagues and trade union and encouraging them to refuse to load and/or unload ships destined for Israel or Israeli shipping.
  4. Get your trade union to issue a statement committing to heed the Palestinian call, as a prelude to taking action on the ground.
  5. Raise a petition in your university highlighting how your university is is complicit in investments profiling from Israeli genocide, and pass motions in student government or faculty senates committing you institutions or union to withdraw these funds.
  6. Organise and reach out to researchers and lab workers whose labs are funded by military companies, and encourage them to strategize a response to Palestinian Trade Unions’ call for solidarity
  7. Hold a public event or protest against your universities investment in and/or collaboration with companies profiting from Israeli genocide.

Please use #StopArmingIsrael and tag us to share your actions with us directly before and after:

Twitter: @WorkersinPales1

Instagram: workersinpalestine

Email us at for any follow up.