Pro-Palestine protesters shut down major intersection

Cassandra Morgan and Samantha Lock |

Samantha Ratnam is calling on the federal government to stop backing Israel’s invasion of Gaza.
Samantha Ratnam is calling on the federal government to stop backing Israel’s invasion of Gaza.

Thousands of pro Palestine protesters shut down Melbourne’s busiest intersection, dumping rubble and body bags during in a sit-in protest.

Activists on Sunday gathered on the corner of Flinders and Swanson streets to recreate the wreckage of a bomb site as they lit flares and waved mock missiles and drones while others lay like casualties on the ground.

“Today, the city was witness to the scenes and sounds of the war in Gaza,” a statement from the activists read.

Describing the closure of the city’s intersection as “a mere inconvenience”, the group said it paled in comparison to the 80 per cent of buildings destroyed in Gaza or the 38,000 people killed, half of them children.

The group called on the federal government to end the production, export and contracts of weapons manufacturing with Israel and Israeli companies as well as to impose sanctions on Israel and expel the Israeli ambassador.

The Greens candidate vying for Bob Hawke’s old seat at the next federal election addressed protesters outside the State Library.

Samantha Ratnam, who stepped down as leader of the Victorian Greens for a tilt at the seat of Wills, said hundreds of community members feel “betrayed and abandoned” by Labor as they grieve over Gaza.

Greens candidate for Wills Samantha Ratnam
Samantha Ratnam called on the federal government to stop backing the Gaza invasion. (James Ross/AAP PHOTOS)

The member for the northern metropolitan region said people were sick of professional politicians who backed Israel’s actions in Gaza.

The seat of Wills, previously former Labor prime minister Mr Hawke’s electorate, is held by Peter Khalil.

“I am hearing from hundreds in our community of Wills about how betrayed and abandoned they feel by Labor in their time of greatest grief and need,” Ms Ratnam told AAP. 

“To see Labor and Liberal politicians pass motions ‘standing with Israel’ – while refusing to disclose ties and end partnerships with weapons manufacturers directly responsible for the artillery that is killing thousands of innocent civilians – has been gut-wrenching for our community.

“Labor MPs like Peter Khalil and Ged Kearney say they support Palestinians – but they didn’t vote to recognise the state of Palestine when they had a chance.”

Ms Ratnam called on the government to stop backing the invasion and call for a permanent ceasefire, recognise the state of Palestine, expel the Israeli ambassador, impose sanctions, and cancel two-way arms trade with Israel and any partnerships with weapons manufacturers.

“People have been gathering in their thousands in Melbourne and across Australia every Sunday since Israel began invading Gaza,” Ms Ratnam said.

“This is becoming the largest movement for peace and they are working in peace to end the genocide of the Palestinian people.”

The pro-Palestinian rally in Melbourne
A protester marches during a pro-Palestinian rally outside the State Library in Melbourne. (James Ross/AAP PHOTOS)

A pro-Palestine rally was also held at Hyde Park in Sydney.

“This week we have seen some of the most deadly and greatest massacres conducted by the Israeli regime to date,” Palestine Action Group activist Amal Naser told a crowd of hundreds.

“Our politicians have no red lines when it comes to Israel.

“They did not have a red line when this week Palestinian in babies were found as ash by their mothers, they did not have a red line when an Australian aid worker was murdered by this regime.”

Ms Naser called on the crowd to continue supporting the Palestinian resistance until liberation.

“We will not wait for them to develop their own red line … we have to continue filling the streets, we have to continue escalating and so our governments and so our leadership can no longer can no longer ignore us.”

The rallies come after activists proclaimed Friday a “national day of action against Labor MPs”, with police investigating acts of vandalism at some politicians’ offices.

Hamas attacked Israel on October 7, killing 1200 people and taking more than 200 hostages, according to Tel Aviv.

Israel launched air strikes and a ground invasion of the Gaza Strip in response.

Its offensive has killed more than 36,000 Palestinians, injured more than 80,000 and displaced more than 1.7 million, Gaza’s health ministry says.