Stop the Genocide: Fifty Thousand Strong in Sydney Call for Gaza Ceasefire Now

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Israeli genocide

Gathered for a fifth Sunday in a row, grassroots Sydney mobilised calling for a ceasefire to end the genocide being perpetrated by the Israeli state upon the Palestinian population living in one of the most densely populated areas on Earth, Gaza: a 40-odd-kilometre-long walled-off strip of land.

Fifty thousand was the estimate for the Gadi/Sydney protest. Down in Naarm/Melbourne, 100,000 took over that city’s CBD, while around 1 million civilians took to the streets of London for the Palestinian cause, and north of this continent saw about 2 million flood the streets in Jakarta.

The ever-growing wave of pro-Palestinian opposition to the drunken brutality Netanyahu has unleashed upon 2.3 million Palestinians in Gaza is unprecedented, as it’s occurring across all continents. And in western centres where authorities have tried to suppress it, it just increases.

As for Albanese, he’s lined up with other US vassals in supporting Israel’s “right to defend” itself. And foreign minister Penny Wong appeared on ABC Insiders on Sunday, hinting that we’re taking “steps toward” calling for a ceasefire and she demanded an end to assaults on Gaza’s hospitals.

Palestine Action Group Sydney spokesperson Assala Sayara leads the ralliers in chants
Palestine Action Group Sydney spokesperson Assala Sayara leads the ralliers in chants

Crimes against us all

“There was a condemnation to the chant that says, “From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free”, explained Palestine Action Group (PAG) Sydney’s Assala Sayara. “This chant reminds the world what is happening in Palestine is occupation. What is happening in Palestine is a crime against humanity.”

“Not only does the Israeli occupation want to own our land. They want to occupy our culture and identity. They want to occupy our blood. But from Gadigal land, I say… there is no way back and there is only one way forward, and this way is to a ceasefire and an end to the Israeli occupation.”

Doctors Without Borders posted on Saturday that people were being shot on attempting to evacuate Gaza City’s Al-Shifa Hospital. 

Indeed, part of the five-week-long extermination campaign sees civilian centres, like hospitals, destroyed as Hamas, Gaza’s governing body, evidently hides beneath them.

The death toll in Gaza is closing in on 12,000 Palestinians, with over 4,500 of the dead being children. Half of the strip’s people are kids. And the 24/7 assault upon Gaza’s Palestinian civilian population because Hamas could be standing next to them, is a profitable tactic to use when chasing genocide.

Not only does Israel have the Palestinians of Gaza held in a region walled-off for the last sixteen years under a debilitating, close-to-starvation level blockade. But since the slaughter commenced, all water, food, electricity, fuel and medical supplies have been completely cut-off.

“Our eyes and our hearts are with… the thousands buried under rubble in Gaza, many of them waiting for help, who can’t get help because Israel is bombing the rescue workers,” added PAG spokesperson Josh Lees. “Something like 20 percent of all buildings in Gaza have been destroyed”.

Palestinian writer Randa Abdel-Fattah addresses the Sunday 12 November Free Palestine rally
Palestinian writer Randa Abdel-Fattah addresses the Sunday 12 November Free Palestine rally

Siege occupation

“Each and every one of you here is part of a movement,” said Palestinian writer Randa Abdel-Fattah. “Let me be clear about what that movement is. We’re moving from genocide, from oppression, from settler colonial theft of resources, from an apartheid system and Jewish supremacy.”

“Towards where?” she asked the crowd. “Freedom and liberation, dismantling apartheid, the return of our lands and resources, towards bringing down the apartheid wall.”

“Towards a Palestine where the only IDF military uniform you will find is hanging behind a glass cabinet in Palestine’s Museum of Genocide to be studied by generations to come as the embodiment of one of the most barbaric stains on humanity in recent times.”

This latest and most heinous Israeli attack upon the small region under siege for sixteen years was sparked when some Hamas troops broke through the security wall that shuts off Gaza from the rest of the planet. In fact, Gaza has long been known as the world’s “largest open-air prison”.

As journalist Wadah Khanfar told Middle East Eye a few weeks back, for those on the ground, the outburst of violence that occurred on 7 October wasn’t unexpected, as the international order was on a course of “normalising” with Israel, which was a project predicated upon Palestinian erasure.

Amnesty International joined the growing chorus of human rights organisations finding that the system operating in Israel and the occupied territories amounts to an apartheid state in a February 2022 report, supported by over 200 pages of evidence.

“How far forward we move is up to our collective energy, courage and commitment,” Abdel-Fattah underscored. “For 75 years, Palestinians have been sprinting towards their goal, while the world has held us back or told us to slow down. Everything has changed.”

The message on the ground was clear
The message on the ground was clear

Ceasefire now

In stark contrast to the bipartisan support that Israel is receiving from this nation’s major parties, the Australian Greens last week twice condemned the assault on a captured population that neither has the resources to defend itself, nor has it been extended the right to defend itself.

“The prime minister Anthony Albanese, the foreign minister Penny Wong and the Labor government have failed” the morality test “miserably”, Greens Senator Dr Mehreen Faruqi told the Sydney crowd on Sunday.

“The Labor government are heartless, gutless powers. Both Labor and the Liberals have absolutely no moral compass when it comes to Palestine,” the Greens deputy leader added.

“They keep banging on endlessly about Israel’s right to defend itself…. Well, you tell me, is murdering 11,000 people in five weeks self-defence?”

The nation has entered a new stage where it will one day have to give account as to why it supported the crime of the century
The nation has entered a new stage where it will one day have to give account as to why it supported the crime of the century

During a press conference covered by Al-Jazeera over the weekend, Palestinian health minister Mai al-Kaila outlined that the death toll was way over 11,000, while the situation in hospitals “had reached an unprecedented point” in modern history.

In regard to Al-Shifa, the minister said all electricity had been cut. She claimed the facility had been bombed with white phosphorus. “Inevitable death is waiting patients and victims”. “Thirty-nine babies born were killed”, and their blood “is on the hands of Israel” and the rest of the planet.

“What about the right for Palestinians to just live? When do they talk about that?” Dr Faruqi asked. “Never. And in their standards and their hypocrisy, the Australian government and the cheerleaders of Israel completely ignore the struggle of Palestinians and their right to live.”

“They want to ignore us,” the senator made certain to the crowd in ending. “But we will not shut up.”

Palestine Action Group Sydney has organised another rally for this Sunday 19 November. The Stop the Genocide in Gaza rally is meeting at 1 pm in Sydney’s Hyde Park North next to the Archibald Fountain

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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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