Despite police warnings and concerns about potential violence, thousands of Australians participated in pro-Palestinian rallies on Sunday, in the wake of the recent Hamas incursion into Israel.
Protests were held in various cities, including Sydney, where the largest rally took place in Hyde Park. While organizers claimed around 5,000 attendees, a Reuters witness estimated about 2,000.
Amid a strong police presence, protesters waved Palestinian flags and chanted slogans such as “Free, free Palestine.” Police even considered using special powers, not exercised in nearly two decades, to stop and search demonstrators.
Some of the rally attendees emphasized the peaceful nature of their support, with one protester, Ayah, explaining that she was there to show solidarity with her country and not to incite conflict. Another protester, Mustafa, stressed that their stance was against Zionists, not Jewish people, emphasizing the coexistence of different faiths in Palestine’s history.
Similar pro-Palestine rallies occurred in other Australian cities, including Adelaide and Melbourne.