HUNDREDS of protesters have converged on Canberra with a strong message for the Federal Government to end its support for Israel in the current conflict.
Protesters gathered outside the Israel embassy shortly before 1pm (AEST) todayÂ carrying signs that read: “Enough is enough”, “Free Gaza Now” and “Israel, enough with the victim act”.
About 800 paper plates were laid out on the ground adjacent to the Israel embassy, representing those killed so far in the conflict.
Keysar Trad from the Islamic Friendship Association of Australia told the crowd the world saw similar conflicts in Rwanda when 900,000 people were killed.
*Â Strange. Why didn’t he mention Darfur?
The relativeÂ indifferenceÂ of the Islamic world to the plight of black
Â Muslims is nothing short ofÂ breathtaking.Â Â While 300,000 AfricansÂ
have lost their lives to Arab genocide in the past six years,Â theÂ
only Muslim protest has actually been inÂ defenseÂ of their killers.
“The shame in all this is that the world community stands idly by watching,” he said.
“Now when you see that and you reflect on that, are we not part of this world community?
“It is wrong to stand idly by and watch … when you see innocent people getting killed … and if you are a representative, we want you to step in and say something and do something that is right,” Mr Trad said, directing his comments to the federal politicians.
The Federal Government needed to unequivocally condemn the attacks, instead of calling it self defence and call an urgent meeting to stop the bombings, he said.
The Government should also send troops in to stop the Israeli attacks, and push for an immediate UN investigation into the war crimes and weapons being used.
Those responsible should also front the war crimes tribunal, Mr Trad said.
His words were supported by Canberra-based Catholic Bishop Pat Power, who said it was important for both sides to stop the spiral of violence.
“Because we all know that violence begets violence, and that violence is no solution to conflict, in Gaza, in the wider Middle East, or indeed anywhere in the world,” Bishop Power said.
In a symbolic show of condemnation against Israel, the protesters threw 10 pairs of children’s shoes onto the road outside the embassy, to highlight the deaths of 250 children so far during the conflict.
Nayef Hajaj, a Palestinian born in Gaza who now lives in Australia, told the group that his people were the subject of a “new Holocaust”.
“They are the subject of killing, there is no discrimination at all between children, women, old people …” said Mr Hajaj, from the United Palestinian Community of Workers.
The crowd also marched to the US Embassy, where they chanted: “Shame Shame USA” and “Israel, USA, how many kids will you kill today?”.
The march continued on to the Egypt embassy and finally The Lodge where it concluded with a speech from Dr Kevin Bray from Australians for Justice and Peace in Palestine.
“Mr Prime Minister, listen to the voices of Australia… Are the lives of Palestinians worth less than the lives of Israelis? Prime Minister, we want an answer for that question.”
Rami Meo from the Sydney-based Coalition on Justice and Peace in Palestine, said a delegation had been trying to meet with Kevin Rudd, Julia Gillard and Stephen Smith to discuss the conflict.
The delegation, formed over the past few days, had even won the support of some unnamed NSW politicians, he said.
But Mr Meo said the group had been given various reasons why they could not meet with cabinet, in a move he said was “disappointing”.
“We have been given the flick off really, no one wants to see us,” he said.
“We have to be effective and drive home to the people in government, tell them that they need to get off their bums and act.”
In Brisbane, more than 2000 people marched through central Brisbane in protest at Israel’s incursion of Gaza.
At a rally in the city one of the organisers, who wished to be known only as Abdullah, said the large turnout showed the growing momentum of Australia’s opposition movement to Israel’s actions.
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