At Home, Rallies Condemn And Defend
Sydney Morning Herald
Monday January 5, 2009
MORE than 3000 protesters convened outside Sydney Town Hall and marched through the city yesterday, deliberately passing the Egyptian consulate. A similar number marched in Melbourne, both in support of and against Israel.The convener in Sydney, Rita Khoury, said the protesters were there to express their solidarity with the people of Gaza. She read out a message from the Hamas leadership saying its resolve would "never be broken". News that at least seven Israeli soldiers had been killed was greeted with cheers. When the march reached Belmore Park, outside Central Station, the chants became "Death, death, death to Israel" and protesters burnt an Israeli flag.In Melbourne 3000 people rallied outside the State Library of Victoria, calling for an immediate ceasefire and an end to the occupation of Gaza.Mosheer Amer, of the Palestinian Community Association, said the violence would end only when the occupation did. "Violence begets violence and more Israeli violence will result in more Palestinian responses to this aggression, which only generates more aggression and bigotry on both sides," he said. A crowd of 600 gathered on the steps of the Victorian Parliament to show solidarity with Israel and condemn Hamas.A rally organiser, Byron Hodkinson, of the Australian Liberal Students' Federation, said Australia needed to maintain a strong pro-Israel position because anything else gave tacit consent to terrorism. A Liberal senator, Mitch Fifield, told the throng Israel was not under attack from the Palestinian people or the Palestinian Authority, but from Hamas, and it had the right to defend itself.