Australian political leaders on Tuesday condemned pro-Palestinian protesters who rallied at Sydney’s Opera House, some throwing flares and chanting anti-Israel insults.
Following the deadly weekend assault launched by the militant group Hamas, hundreds of supporters of the Palestinian cause marched on Monday evening to the iconic Australian landmark, which was lit up in blue and white in solidarity with Israel.
Protesters lit red flares outside the Opera House, shouted antisemitic slogans and carried banners with messages such as “Where there is apartheid resistance is justified.”
“There is nothing to celebrate from the loss of innocent lives,” Prime Minister Anthony Albanese told a radio interviewer the following morning.
New South Wales Premier Chris Minns said it was “intolerable” that the Jewish community had been unable to go to the Opera House because of the pro-Palestinian rally.
“We lit up the Opera House specifically to show solidarity with the Jewish community and it is a great shame that they were not able to commemorate solemnly with their community,” he said.
Police said they allowed the protest to proceed to avoid conflict and disturbances in the city.
“We do not expect people to bring conflict from other places to the streets of Sydney and violence will not be tolerated,” New South Wales assistant police commissioner Tony Cooke told reporters.
One person carrying an Israeli flag was removed from the area “for his own safety” and to prevent a breach of the peace, he said.
Police will try to identify anyone who committed offences during the rally, Cooke said, adding that it had been filmed by closed-circuit television.