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Thousands of pro-Palestine protesters rally in Melbourne and Sydney calling for union support

Eli GreenNCA NewsWire
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Camera IconNot Supplied Credit: Supplied

Thousands of protesters have rallied in Sydney and Melbourne for the eighth week in a row, using the gathering to call for more support from the unions.

Protesters filled Sydney’s Hyde Park while those in Melbourne took up the entire road in front of Flinders St Station on Sunday as they called on Australian leaders to call for peace and end the fighting in Palestine.

A strong feature of the Melbourne rally was organisers calling on union executives, especially Australian Council of Trade Unions (ACTU) secretary Sally McManus, to join the calls for peace.

MARCH for PALESTINE
Camera IconProtesters have gathered each week since fighting broke out between Israel and Palestinian militant group Hamas on October 7. NCA NewsWire / Luis Enrique Ascui Credit: News Corp Australia

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MARCH for PALESTINE
Camera IconMelbourne protesters occupied entire streets at their rally NCA NewsWire / Luis Enrique Ascui Credit: News Corp Australia
FREE PALESTINE RALLY
Camera IconProtesters have gathered in their thousands each weekend. NCA NewsWire / Flavio Brancaleone Credit: News Corp Australia
FREE PALESTINE RALLY
Camera IconMany protesters raised Palestinian flags and were emotional while speeches were given. NCA NewsWire / Flavio Brancaleone Credit: News Corp Australia

“The leaders of the ACTU, I want to tell them this, we want you to organise, organise and organise a union rally, one that bands them together,” Maritime Union of Australia WA Secretary Christy Cain called over the microphone.

“Sally McManus we need you, we need you at these rallies, we need you calling for peace.

“We need you to mobilise the masses around Australia and our connections around the world.”

Protesters were heard chanting “peace is union business, peace is all our business”.

While Ms McManus has not attended the rally, the ACTU says it “condemns attacks on civilians” and has called “for an end to the occupation of Palestine”.

“The ACTU calls on the Australian Government to exercise all avenues of diplomacy to stop the bombing and ground assault by Israel into Gaza and call for an immediate ceasefire,” the union said in the weeks after the first attacks.

“We reiterate the Australian union movement’s strong opposition to war, violence and racism, including antisemitism and Islamophobia.”

FREE PALESTINE RALLY
Camera IconMany protesters took aim at Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. NCA NewsWire / Flavio Brancaleone Credit: News Corp Australia
FREE PALESTINE RALLY
Camera IconAn enormous Palestinian flag was laid down at the Sydney protest. NCA NewsWire / Flavio Brancaleone Credit: News Corp Australia
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Camera Icon“Free Palestine” was the overwhelming message of both protests. NCA NewsWire / Luis Enrique Ascui Credit: News Corp Australia
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Camera IconProtesters young and old joined together on Sunday. NCA NewsWire / Luis Enrique Ascui Credit: News Corp Australia

“The killing of civilians & collective punishment must stop,” Ms McManus wrote on X, adding to the statement.

Red, green white and black were overwhelming as hundreds of Palestinian flags were raised by protesters or worn around their shoulders.

With tensions high on Australian streets in the fallout from the attack, protest organisers were quick to declare they were calling for peace rather than religious violence.

“Once again lets make it really clear, this is not a war and more importantly this is not a war on Jews against the Muslims,” one protest organiser was heard saying over the microphone.

“This has nothing to do with interfaith issues. We demand our leaders stop lying, we demand it.”

Her call was met with cries of “shame” from the audience, directed toward politicians and other leaders.

“From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free,” was used as a rallying cry at both protests.

The protest have occurred each week since Hamas launched a surprise attack on Israel on October 7, killing 1500 people and taking dozens of hostages.

Many of the Israeli hostages have been freed in a prisoner swap amid the recent ceasefire, though both sides brushed off calls to renew the expired truce on Saturday.

At least 240 people have been killed since the pause ended on Friday and the assault on Gaza’s north continued.

Areas in Khan Younis in southern Gaza have come underfire over the weekend while sirens have sounded in Israel’s south as Hamas targeted Tel Aviv.

More than 15,000 Palestinians including 6150 children have been killed in the conflict while Israel’s official death toll stands at 1200.

FREE PALESTINE RALLY
Camera IconA ceasefire and an end to the fighting were at the forefront of protesters calls. NCA NewsWire / Flavio Brancaleone Credit: News Corp Australia
FREE PALESTINE RALLY
Camera IconEntire families were in attendance at the rallies. NCA NewsWire / Flavio Brancaleone Credit: News Corp Australia

Prayers in English and Arabic were read out, with the crowd falling silent as they wished safety to Palestinians under siege.

Enormous Palestinian flags were seen at both protests, with Melburnians carrying theirs through the streets while Sydneysiders laid theirs on the ground.

A large watermelon flag, used as a symbol of Palestinian resistance, with messages for Palestinians written onto it was also carried through the Sydney protest.

“Where were you when people were being killed, where were you when hospitals were getting demolished, where were you when entire neighbourhoods were getting bombed. We’re going to remember, whatever you’re doing, keep doing it.”

“Demand better!”

A strong police presence could be seen at both rallies to keep things calm, with public order and riot squad officers, mounted police and other crew seen at the protests.

The events remained calm on Sunday afternoon and no arrests were made at either rally not any incidents recorded.

Originally published as Thousands of pro-Palestine protesters rally in Melbourne and Sydney calling for union support

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