Naarm and Gadigal Escalate for Rafah and Against Australian Complicity in Gaza

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Palestinian rights

Warning: Senior Australian political figures and editors of the Murdoch press are running a concerted campaign to equate antigenocidal demonstrations and sentiment in relation to Gaza as antisemitic, so continue reading at your own risk of being corrupted.

Pro-Palestinian protesters took to the streets of Naarm-Melbourne and in Sydney on Gadigal land over the last weekend, for the 34th week in a row, which is as long as Israel has been perpetrating a genocide in Gaza that’s been livestreamed from the ground to the entire planet.

As organisers have been promising, they’re now escalating for Rafah, which is the southernmost city of the Gaza Strip, where the Israeli military has corralled 1.5 of the 2.3 million Palestinians of Gaza via the promise of a safe zone, as Tel Aviv commenced its assault on the region in early May.

How the escalation played out in Naarm was that despite what appeared to be every member of the Victoria police out the streets on Sunday intimidating the pro-Palestinians, the protesters managed to bring the city’s busiest intersection to a grinding halt to stage the impact of an Israeli airstrike.

While the weekly Palestine Action Group Sydney rally for Gaza distinctly made its antigenocide sentiment known as its numbers swelled to 50,000 as it marched along Gadigal land through the CBD, with the huge outpouring a direct result of the crisis in Rafah.

And despite the disinformation campaign being waged since last October that claims all Gaza protests are antisemitic, the turnouts in the nation’s major urban centres reveal that the threat of being falsely charged with such prejudice is doing little to prevent the condemnation of a genocide.

Complicit in the killing

Thousands of Melburnians converged late Sunday afternoon at the intersection of Flinders and Swanston to recreate the scene of an Israeli bombing of Palestinian civilians, on what was the 239th day of the genocide, with this reenactment before Flinders Street Station a daily event in Gaza.

The action began when a truck pulled up in the centre of the intersection and dumped a pile of rubble and fake body bags on the road, at a time when the official death toll of the Israeli assault is around 37,000 Palestinians, but if those under the rubble are counted, it’s way over 40,000.

The pro-Palestinian display also featured fake drones, bombs and the mock destruction of a hospital, as Israel has wiped out Gaza’s medical system. And the footage of the event conveys the unrest and trepidation that those partaking were experiencing and channelling to onlookers.

“This action is a signifier of the reality of life in Gaza and the West Bank brought by the ongoing genocide being committed by the Israeli Occupation Forces,” reads a 2nd May press release from those who staged the action.

“The Australian Labor Party, our government, is wholly complicit in the wholesale murder of our Palestinian brothers and sisters,” the organisers underscored.

And the agitators pointed out that the action that took place was coinciding with the Victorian government’s Rising Festival, which is an art event that recently affirmed in writing that free expression and dissent are a cornerstone of the arts.

And this suggests Sunday’s action was quite artistic, yet Victoria police didn’t seem to appreciate this.

No redlines for Albanese and Minns

Fifty thousand showed up in Sydney’s Hyde Park on Gadigal land, because, as organisers explained, the globe had long warned Israel not to perpetrate the massacre in Rafah, but despite this, Netanyahu last week rained explosive heavy metal down upon displaced people sheltering in tents.

“This week we have seen some of the most deadly and greatest massacres conducted by the Israeli regime to date,” said Palestine Action Group organiser Amal Naser. “It was not a surprise to any of us. We knew full-well what Israel was capable of.”

“We knew they were capable of burning men, women and children alive, or beheading babies,” the third generation Palestinian refugee added, specifically in reference the attack on an encampment of tents, containing purposefully starved and traumatised civilian women and children.

Naser made clear that the horror of this event has led many to ask what must be the Australian government’s redline when it comes to Gaza, as its still supporting Israel after this further atrocity.

“Let me be clear, our political and media establishment does not have a redline when it comes to Israel,” the Palestinian woman continued. “They did not have a redline, when, this week, Palestinian babies were found as ash by their mothers.”

And as the huge procession marched through the city streets last Sunday, one placard read, “Labor have given Israel a billion to fund the genocide. Are you okay with that?” While another told the story of the official death toll relating to Palestinian children, which is now at over 16,000.

The tide has already shifted

The Victorian protesters that blocked the busiest intersection in Melbourne raised their demands, which include seeing the Australian and Victorian governments fulfill their obligation under the Genocide Convention, which requires proactive effort to end the genocide Israel is perpetrating.

Of course, those at the rally on Gadigal would extend that demand to the NSW government. Yet, the actions of premier Chris Minns over the last eight months, in his support of Israel and his demonisation of pro-Palestinian events, do indicate he has no issue with the state of play in Gaza.

Further demands protesters cited were cutting ties with Israel, ceasing all military cooperation with it and the US “by way of ending production, export and contracts of weapons manufacturing and research with Israel and Israeli companies”, imposing sanctions and expelling the Israeli ambassador.

“Intifada means rising. We will not just bring our grief to the streets, we will bring the Intifada. Palestine is always rising,” said the Naarm activists, whose demonstration they again linked to the Victorian government’s art festival, which encourages dissent.

“The scene we created signifies the reality of genocide in Gaza,” they said. “The closure of a Melbourne intersection is a mere inconvenience.”

“In Gaza, 80 percent of buildings have been destroyed. Thousands of massacres have been committed” and “100 percent of the population displaced.”

Main image: Stills from Sunday’s Naarm Gaza action borrowed from a Renegade Solidarity Audio Force clip

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Paul Gregoire

Paul Gregoire is a Sydney-based journalist and writer. He's the winner of the 2021 NSW Council for Civil Liberties Award For Excellence In Civil Liberties Journalism. Prior to Sydney Criminal Lawyers®, Paul wrote for VICE and was the news editor at Sydney’s City Hub.

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