Thousands of protesters have gathered in Melbourne and Sydney for pro-Palestinian rallies, after a week of tension between organisers and authorities in New South Wales.
- Thousands gathered at the State Library of Victoria in support of Palestinians
- Speakers expressed concerns about impending attacks on Gaza
- Protesters have also gathered at Hyde Park in Sydney
In Melbourne, thousands of people met at the State Library of Victoria in solidarity with Palestinians.
Meanwhile, protesters also gathered in Sydney’s Hyde Park for a static rally despite being denied official approval by NSW Police.
The brutal attack on Israeli villages near Gaza last week, in which Hamas terrorists targeted revellers at a music festival and kidnapped children and grandmothers to be held as hostages, killed more than 1,300 people and left 3,200 injured.
Israel has launched a series of air strikes that has flattened parts of Gaza City and left at least 2,200 dead and more than 8,700 injured. A further 54 Palestinians have died in the West Bank, with 1,100 wounded there.
During Sydney’s rally, event organiser Farhad Ali said the “world could no longer turn a blind eye” to what was happening in Gaza.
“We saw earlier this week the premier of New South Wales said don’t come to this protest. Well, there are thousands of people here.”
In Melbourne, the protesters marched from the library, through the CBD streets and to the state parliament, where police were stationed ahead of time.
“We will remain in solidarity, and we will continue to show up and stand with you our brothers and sisters in Gaza until liberation,” a speaker at the rally told the crowd.
The sentiment was met with cheers and chants for the freedom of Palestinians.
“The Palestinian people are not going anywhere, and neither are we,” the crowd was told.
Speakers expressed concerns about impending attacks on Gaza and ongoing blockades against Palestinians.
While the protest was largely peaceful as it moved through the city, aerial footage from the event appeared to show a flare being let off in the crowd.
A small scuffle then broke out between protesters and the officers who moved into the crowd to put out the flare.
In a final speech to the crowd outside parliament, a Palestinian woman told the crowd her people felt “pain, anger, outrage, betrayed”.
The crowd shouted “shame” as she said that blood spilled in Gaza was considered “less than”.
Rally held in Sydney’s Hyde Park
Sydney’s rally drew thousands of people after organisers pushed ahead with the event despite comments from NSW Premier Chris Minns and senior police, who urged for it not to go ahead.
On Friday, Acting Commissioner David Hudson said NSW Police was considering authorising the use of “extraordinary” powers to search and identify protesters ahead of the rally.
It followed a protest in front of the Sydney Opera House earlier this week where racial epithets were chanted by some attendees.
Organisers said in a statement that anti-Semitic language, like phrases chanted by a group at Monday night’s protest, was not welcome.
Police said about 6,000 people attended the rally.
Attendees at Hyde Park waved Palestinian flags and held signs saying “end the Gaza blockade” and “Gaza ceasefire now”.
Indigenous Australian, Palestinian, and Jewish speakers addressed the crowd.
Speakers at the event also included Federal Greens Senator Mehreen Faruqi, who took aim at the lighting of the Opera House sails in the colours of the Israeli flag last Monday night.
“Which landmarks were lit up in the colours of the Palestinian flag in 2014 when Israel bombed civilians from one end of Gaza to the other?” she said.
“Where are the colours of the Palestinian flag when civilians are being killed right now by the Israeli bombing?”
Rally attendee Dialah El Madi said the NSW government had used “scare tactics” to try and stop the protest.
“We live in Australia and we have a right to demonstrate peacefully but unfortunately, the politicians and Chris Minns have tried to employ scare tactics by giving the police draconian powers,” she said.
“I know they’re not exercised yet … that’s made people feel that the government is trying to deter people from coming today and standing up for justice.
“One hundred per cent we want a peaceful protest.”
https://www.abc.net.au/news/2023-10-15/pro-palestinian-rallies-held-melbourne-sydney/102966898 Thousands turn out for pro-Palestinian rallies in Melbourne and Sydney