Italian Unions Boycotting Israeli Air and Shipping Facilities Following Massacre in Beirut

Two Israeli container ships were stranded today in the Livorno part and 76 passengers on an El Al flight had to fend for themselves yesterday at the Rome airport because of a boycott by the powerful federation of Italy’s three major trade unions as an aftermath of the massacre of Palestinian refugees in two camps near Beirut.

Normal airport service to transport El Al passengers from the landing point of the planes to the airport terminal and in handling of luggage of passengers has been suspended until October. A spokesman for one of the three unions said the unionized workers “refuse to furnish any sort of assistance to these flights, with the purpose of boycotting contact with Israel.”

One result of the boycott was to leave Israeli ships with no facilities for loading or unloading cargo. The first ships hit by the boycott were the “Zim Tokyo” and the “Zim Marseilles.”

There was no indication how long the ship boycott would last, or what would happen to handling of El Al flights to Rome after October, but the union federation said it would meet again this week to consider widening the boycotts against Israel an a nationwide scale. The unions include members of the Socialist, Social Democratic, Christian Democratic and Communist Parties.

Pierre Carnitim, head of the Christian Democratic Union, demanded that the Italian government act promptly to recognize the Palestine Liberation Organization and to establish an embargo on all Israeli air flights and ship travel between Israel and Italy. Because of the airport boycott, the crew of the El Al plane yesterday had to handle the baggage of the 76 passengers.

Meanwhile, the union federation, together with the Communist Mayor of Rome and the PLO representative in Rome, Nemer Hammad, organized a pro-PLO march and rally in Rome yesterday.

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