Wollongong resident Saeb Ali made hundreds of t-shirts in 2016, emblazoned with text that read 'End Slaughter in Gaza'.
Mr Ali, who fled from Lebanon to Australia to escape the Civil War in 1977, donned one of those t-shirts again on Saturday, to show the Israel-Gaza conflict was not new.
"This has been going on for years before the 7th of October," Mr Ali said at the 'Free Palestine' rally held at the Crown Street mall amphitheatre.
"Unfortunately people are concentrating only on this date which was an atrocity, it was an act of terror, but what followed is 10 times as bad and everybody is condemning one but not the other.
"(Palestinians) have been under siege for 17 years in Gaza. It's a struggle for freedom."
Mr Ali says he has been left heartbroken as hundreds of children have died.
"When the bombing was done to the hospital, my wife woke me up and told me what happened," he said.
"I went to wash my face and I had more tears coming out of my eyes than water, because all I could see was my beautiful grandchildren."
In 2007, after Hamas seized control of the Gaza Strip, Israel and Egypt imposed an indefinite blockade of Gaza.
Hamas conducted a cross-border attack on October 7 that killed more than 1400 people in Israel and led to more than 150 being taken hostage.
Israel retaliated by laying siege to the 2.3 million people living in Gaza, unleashing a bombing campaign that has left more than 3500 dead and roughly one million displaced, according to Palestinian officials.
Mr Ali said he is watching the news closely, as he has family in Beirut and cross-border clashes have occurred in southern Lebanon.
Chants for liberty and an end to apartheid rang through the mall as hundreds gathered and then marched in a show of solidarity for Palestinian civilians.
A police presence watched on as the crowd held placards that read "Palestine will never walk alone", "Bombing kids is not self-defence", and "Mothers against genocide".
Wollongong Lord Mayor Gordon Bradbery delivered a charged speech, in which he said it was "not acceptable" for the government to light the Opera House up with Israeli flag colours, without also doing the same with Palestinian flag colours.
Cr Bradbery also compared Wollongong, a 714 square kilometre space with a population of 220,000 - to Gaza, 365 square kilometre space with a population of over 2 million "jammed into it".
"That is the formula for pain," he said.
"We have to fight injustice wherever we see it and stand up and fight for the rights of all human beings to reclaim their place."
Greens Senator Mehreen Faruqi also took to the stage and condemned Israel's retaliation.
"We are waking up every single day to death and devastation of people ... Gaza is being bombed to dust," she said.
Ms Faruqi added that Prime Minister Anthony Albanese, and other leaders of western countries, should "hang their head in shame" for not calling for a ceasefire.
She said the denial of food and water to civilians was devastating.
A NSW Police spokesperson said attendees of the rally were "well behaved" with no arrests made.
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