The MV Cape Orlando has set sail after a nearly 10-hour delay at the Port of Oakland due to demonstrators protesting America’s role in supporting Israel’s bombing of Gaza.

A U.S. Military reservist vessel, the MV Cape Orlando was believed by protesters — informed by a confidential source — to be on its way to pick up military equipment in Tacoma, Washington on Friday to aid Israel in its fight against Hamas in Gaza where civilians are caught in the crossfire.

The Arab Resource Organizing Center (AROC), an organization that “fights for racial and economic justice and the dignity and liberation of our Arab and Muslim communities,” called for a ceasefire by blocking the vessel’s berth entrance along with local activists — including residents with family members who have died in Gaza. Some tied themselves to the MV Cape Orlando.

“Today we showed the world: NO business as usual while Israel commits genocide against the Palestinian people,” AROC executive director Lara Kiswani said in a statement. “This genocide is being funded by our government, and they’re sending weapons starting from our city. We say not in our name, and not on our dime.”

According to a release from AROC, three protesters who climbed onto the vessel were detained by the U.S. Coast Guard. As it is an ongoing investigation, Coast Guard Petty Officer Hunter Schnabel said Friday evening that he could not provide specifics but confirmed “multiple individuals are currently under investigation.”

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Protesters, along with federal and local law enforcement, disbanded once the vessel left the pier. Oakland Police Department had been on-site to assist with crowd control, but no arrests were made by that agency, according to OPD spokesperson Paul Chambers.

Marilyn Sandifur, spokesperson for the Port of Oakland, said “the demonstration outside the marine terminal where the vessel is berthed is not hampering any port operations at this time.”

The release from AROC called on “communities in cities around the country and across the world to be on alert for vessels carrying similar cargo.”

The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Maritime Administration (MARAD) did not respond to requests for comment. MARAD is responsible for America’s waterborne transportation system and also maintains the country’s National Defense Reserve Fleet ready to support the rapid deployment of U.S. military forces.

“It is unconscionable that, as Israel has murdered 9,000 people, including 4,000 children ... our government is using our tax dollars to pay for U.S. bombs to be dropped on Palestinian children in Gaza,” said Wassim Hage, a spokesperson for the Arab Resource and Organizing Center.

$14.5 billion solution?

On Thursday, the U.S. House of Representatives passed a plan to provide nearly $14.5 billion in aid to Israel in its fight against Hamas, a U.S. Department of State-designated terrorist organization with members located in Gaza where innocent civilians are caught in the crossfire of the Israelis’ retaliatory bombing following Hamas’ Oct. 7 attack. The Senate has yet to approve the plan.

“We say this money should be used for schools, for education, for health care, for our people here — not to murder and massacre Palestinians in Gaza,” Hage said.

Oakland protester Waeil Elbhassi is in daily contact with family members in Gaza and shared his grief of losing several of them since the bombings began.

“On Oct. 12, my first cousin, his son and his (2-year-old) granddaughter were killed,” he said, adding that a week later, his other cousin’s son had been killed in a mosque. “The horrible part is that her son is still under the rubble ... (my cousin) was telling me, ‘I can’t even say goodbye to my son properly.’”

Others in his family are living minute by minute, gathering wood to make fires for cooking and drinking salty, unpurified water. Another family member with a house still standing opened it to about 100 extended family members seeking safe haven.

Between the calls from home and social media timelines with reports of parents digging up dead children, Elbhassi is tired of questions about Hamas, noting the conflict was taking place long before Oct. 7.

Our families and our personal stories are important. If there is one message we want to convey, it’s how frustrated we feel and how betrayed we feel to be considered subhuman — for our government to be so complicit and be the biggest enabler of this massacre. We want action. We want this to stop.

Waeil Elbhassi, Protester

“We’re talking about, really, a century of colonization, displacement and systematic violence against our people,” he continued. “I mean, Gaza has been under siege for 16 years ... People cannot look at all this — at this condition and all this violence — and just continue to talk about Hamas.”

Elbhassi went on to say, “Our families and our personal stories are important. If there is one message we want to convey, it’s how frustrated we feel and how betrayed we feel to be considered subhuman — for our government to be so complicit and be the biggest enabler of this massacre. We want action. We want this to stop.”