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Protesters rally in Wellington against Israeli attacks

Jan 7th, 2009 | By | Category: Latest News, News

gazmainA DEMONSTRATION in central Wellington culminated in the burning of an Israeli flag and the symbolic sprinkling of blood on an Israeli memorial near Civic Square.

The protesters demanded the New Zealand Government condemn Israel’s ongoing offensive in the Gaza Strip, in which more than 550 Palestinians have been killed.

After a number of speakers condemned Israel for its actions and the Government for its inaction, Father Gerard Burn sprinkled red paint, mixed with a drop of his own blood, over a memorial to assassinated Israeli Prime Minister and Nobel Peace Laureate Yitzhak Rabin to mark the killing of hundreds of Palestinians and seizure of their land, before burning the Israeli flag.

The act was called “despicable” by former Israeli honorary consul David Zwartz, who organised a silent protest over what he called the disproportionate response to Israel’s actions.

“That’s equally to be deplored,” he says of the flag-burning.

Inspector Simon Perry of the Wellington police was happy with the protesters’ behaviour, saying it was very orderly.

“Flag burnings at these sorts of events are pretty common. They didn’t wave it around, so that was fine,” he says.

Green Party MP Keith Locke was impressed with the size of the turnout, which he had never seen at a pro-Palestine protest before, and hopes New Zealand can provide some moral leadership in condemning Israel’s offensive.

The response to the protest was mixed, with an organiser arguing with a member of the public over why Hamas was not condemned in their pamphlets, and an Israeli supporter saying the offensive was justified because of the Hamas rockets raining down on Israel.

Musician Dean Hapeta lent his support to Hamas as he criticised Israel’s colonial rule in Gaza, comparing it to the experience of other indigenous people.

“More power to Hamas,” he called to the crowd.

Student Jennifer Eatson was disappointed by the Government’s refusal to condemn Israel, but she understands the difficulty of the situation.

“It’s hard to avoid being called anti-Semitic if you support Palestine,” she says.

Picture: Protesters march under the watchful eye of Wellington police.

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