More than 600 pro-Palestinian protesters marched from Town Hall to the US Consulate in the city today, condemning the Israeli Government for “genocidal and apartheid practices” days after a ceasefire was brokered between Israel and Hamas-led militant factions.
Demonstrators hoisted large flags of Palestine and held placards saying “Stop Israeli Aggression, inflamed by eight days of conflict that left 166 Palestinians and six Israelis dead.
City traffic was brought to a standstill, with police lining the route to the US Consulate in the MLC Centre at Martin Place and mounted police trailing what was largely a peaceful demonstration.
Greens Senator Lee Rhiannon addressed the crowd saying they were working for lasting peace and justice for Palestinians. She also lambasted the Australian Government for failing to stand against Israel.
“Australia has a key role to play in terms of bringing peace to this region now that we have a seat on the Security Council,” she told Fairfax Media. “Australia should not longer be a vote en bloc with Israel and the United States. We need to be an independent voice.”
State Labor MP Lynda Voltz criticised her parliamentary colleagues for being in “silent” on the plight of Palestinians.
“I made a speech in Parliament [about the human rights abuses in Palestine] and not one of my colleagues condemned Israel for that action,” she told the crowd. “[My friend] should be able to defend herself from rockets coming down on her head.”
Zeinab Kadadi, 48, a Lebanese-Australian married to a Palestinian and has extended family living on the Gaza strip. The mother of five from Balmain said she wanted the Australia Government to formally withdraw any support for the Israeli Government.
“People are dying everyday. How can we let this happen? I am so worried for my family because the civilians are the ones paying the price,” she said.