Protesters filled Sydney’s Hyde Park while those in Melbourne took up the entire road in front of Flinders St Station on Sunday as they called on Australian leaders to call for peace and end the fighting in Palestine.
They were heard chanting ‘peace is union business, peace is all our business’.
A strong feature of the Melbourne rally was organisers calling on union executives, especially Australian Council of Trade Unions (ACTU) secretary Sally McManus to join the calls for peace.
Pro-Palestine supporters took up the entire road in front of Flinders St Station as they urged unions to join the growing calls for peace in the Middle East
Protesters have gathered each week since fighting broke out between Israel and Palestinian militant group Hamas on October 7
In Melbourne, pro-Palestine protesters occupied entire city streets
‘The leaders of the ACTU, I want to tell them this, we want you to organise, organise and organise a union rally, one that bands them together,’ Maritime Union of Australia WA Secretary Christy Cain called over the microphone.
‘Sally McManus we need you, we need you at these rallies, we need you calling for peace.
‘We need you to mobilise the masses around Australia and our connections around the world.’
While Ms McManus has not attended the rally, the ACTU says it ‘condemns attacks on civilians’ and has called ‘for an end to the occupation of Palestine’.
‘The ACTU calls on the Australian Government to exercise all avenues of diplomacy to stop the bombing and ground assault by Israel into Gaza and call for an immediate ceasefire,’ the union said in the weeks after the first attacks.
‘We reiterate the Australian union movement’s strong opposition to war, violence and racism, including antisemitism and Islamophobia.’
Many protesters took aim at Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu
An enormous Palestinian flag was laid down at the Sydney protest
‘Free Palestine’ was the overwhelming message of both protests
Protesters young and old joined together on Sunday
‘The killing of civilians & collective punishment must stop,’ Ms McManus wrote on X, adding to the statement.
Red, green white and black were overwhelming as hundreds of Palestinian flags were raised by protesters or worn around their shoulders.
With tensions high on Australian streets in the fallout from the attack, protest organisers were quick to declare they were calling for peace rather than religious violence.
‘Once again lets make it really clear, this is not a war and more importantly this is not a war on Jews against the Muslims,’ one protest organiser was heard saying over the microphone.
‘This has nothing to do with interfaith issues. We demand our leaders stop lying, we demand it.’
Her call was met with cries of ‘shame’ from the audience, directed toward politicians and other leaders.
‘From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free,’ was used as a rallying cry at both protests.
The protest have occurred each week since Hamas launched a surprise attack on Israel on October 7, killing 1500 people and taking dozens of hostages.
Many of the Israeli hostages have been freed in a prisoner swap amid the recent ceasefire, though both sides brushed off calls to renew the expired truce on Saturday.
At least 240 people have been killed since the pause ended on Friday and the assault on Gaza’s north continued.
Areas in Khan Younis in southern Gaza have come under fire over the weekend while sirens have sounded in Israel’s south as Hamas targeted Tel Aviv.
More than 15,000 Palestinians including 6150 children have been killed in the conflict while Israel’s official death toll stands at 1200.
Protesters gathered in their thousands in capital cities once again on Sunday
Many protesters raised Palestinian flags and became emotional during the speeches
A ceasefire and an end to the fighting were at the forefront of protesters calls
Prayers in English and Arabic were read out, with the crowd falling silent as they wished safety to Palestinians under siege.
Enormous Palestinian flags were seen at both protests, with Melburnians carrying theirs through the streets while Sydneysiders laid theirs on the ground.
A large watermelon flag, used as a symbol of Palestinian resistance, with messages for Palestinians written onto it was also carried through the Sydney protest.
‘Where were you when people were being killed, where were you when hospitals were getting demolished, where were you when entire neighbourhoods were getting bombed. We’re going to remember, whatever you’re doing, keep doing it.’
A strong police presence could be seen at both rallies to keep things calm, with public order and riot squad officers, mounted police and other crew seen at the protests.
The events remained calm on Sunday afternoon and no arrests were made at either rally not any incidents recorded.
Entire families were in attendance at the rallies in Sydney and Melbourne