Pro-Palestinian rally slows Sydney CBD

Pro-Palestinian protesters march down part of George Street in Sydney

Several hundred pro-Palestinian protesters have marched to commemorate Israel’s creation in Sydney.
Source: AAP

AS Israel celebrates the 65th anniversary of its creation, several hundred pro-Palestinian protesters have marched down Sydney’s George Street to commemorate the day.

About 350 protesters and activists succeeded in shutting down half of Sydney’s main thoroughfare on Wednesday night as they marched in solidarity with the Palestinian people.

“Tonight we’re commemorating the day in 1948 that Israel was brought into being by illegitimate means and displaced over 700,000 Palestinians and ethnically cleansed over 450 Palestinian villages,” organiser Lutfi Zayed told AAP.

Almost three quarters of the Palestinian population were dispossessed, and there are now 4.3 million Palestinian refugees in camps within Gaza as well across the Middle East in Lebanon and Jordan, organisers said.

Former US President Harry Truman recognised the state of Israel on May 15, 1948, and Palestinians refer to that day as the Nakba or “the catastrophe”.

Zayed said the Nakba was “an ongoing process of genocide and of the construction of an apartheid state”.

Greens MP David Shoebridge told protesters outside Sydney’s Town Hall that Palestinians were asking for very little.

“I find it absolutely astounding just how moderate the demands of the Palestinian people are, continuing passive peaceful resistance to what is one of the most brutal military occupations anywhere on the planet,” he said.

“Shame on our government for ignoring the human rights of Palestine and for signing up to support the extremist policies of Israel.”

Mr Shoebridge called for the Australian government to pressure Israel to end the building of illegal settlements, end military occupation in the West Bank, and end the blockade of Gaza.

“The average Australian citizen wants the rights of Palestinians respected and they are being ignored by the majority of their parliamentarians – that is a disgrace,” he said.

“Our governments at all levels should speak against it, but they don’t because they’re cowed.”

Australians for Palestine co-founder Sonja Karkar said Palestinians were appealing for the world to support their rights under international humanitarian law “and as stipulated in umpteen United Nations resolutions”.

Traffic was slowed as the protesters blocked off the left lanes of George Street, peacefully marching to Pitt Street Mall.

Earlier this week, NSW Police took organisers to the Supreme Court in an attempt to force them to divert the rally from the city at peak hour.

But the court upheld the protesters’ right to march.

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