Protesters hold banners and flags.
People at a pro-Palestine rally in Melbourne chanted "end the occupation, lift the siege". Image by Diego Fedele/AAP PHOTOS
  • demonstration

‘Continue to resist’: National rallies demand ceasefire


December 3, 2023

Thousands of pro-Palestine protesters have gathered in Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane to demand an immediate and permanent ceasefire in Gaza, pledging the rallies will not stop until “freedom and justice prevails”.

For the eighth week in a row, supporters for a free Palestine marched through the Sydney CBD, Melbourne CBD and in Logan south of Brisbane.

“This is not about Judaism,” campaigner Assala Sayara told a crowd clutching Palestinian flags and placards gathered in Sydney’s Hyde Park on Sunday.

“This is not about the Jewish people and this is not about Hamas.

“This is about 75 years of occupation.

“This is 75 years of pain and mourning.”

A pro-Palestine supporter holds a banner in Melbourne.
 A pro-Palestine supporter holds a banner during the rally and march in Melbourne. Image by Diego Fedele/AAP PHOTOS 

Ms Sayara said the protesters would not back down.

“Our commitment to the Palestinian cause is not a one-day or seven-day or seven-week commitment,” she said.

“This is a long-term commitment.

“Even after we die, our children and our grandchildren will be committed to this movement.”

“We will return to every single occupied territory in Palestine.

“We will continue to resist.”

Palestinian-Australian author and business coach Reem Borrows said the protests would continue “until freedom and justice prevails … until the brutal occupation ends”.

“We have been facing displacement and injustices that the world has denied for decades upon decades,” she said in Sydney.

“We have 5.9 million Palestinian refugees living in incredible poverty, living with no papers, no legal protection and against international law with no right of return.”

Similar themes were heard in Melbourne, where protesters demanded “end the occupation, lift the siege and stop the genocide” as they marched toward the Victorian parliament.

The rally in Melbourne began outside the State Library.
 The rally in Melbourne began outside the State Library before protesters marched toward parliament. Image by Diego Fedele/AAP PHOTOS 

Jewish lawyer Sarah Schwartz said she was horrified to watch videos of Palestinian children in Gaza running from bombs as parents searched through the rubble for their dead children.

“But that doesn’t mean I don’t care about the Israeli victims of October 7 and for the Israeli hostages,” she said in Melbourne.

“If you find the events of October 7 abhorrent as we all should, then you must see the ongoing injustices against Palestinians is also abhorrent.

“Humans everywhere have an instinct for freedom and if our safety depends on stifling another people’s cry for freedom, it is not real safety.”

Calls for a ceasefire and chants of “free, free Palestine” rang out at an event in Logan Gardens in Brisbane with organisers standing in front of a banner saying “all I want for Christmas is a ceasefire”.

Children’s shoes were hung from a white Christmas tree to symbolise those who have died in the conflict.

No arrests and no incidents were reported during Sunday’s rallies.

a rally showing solidarity with Israeli women
 Women have marched in Byron Bay to show solidarity with Israeli women and girls assaulted by Hamas. Image by HANDOUT/BYRON ISRAELI COMMUNITY MEDIA GROUP 

Elsewhere, families and friends of hostages taken by Hamas addressed hundreds gathered at the North Shore Synagogue in Lindfield in Sydney on Sunday morning.

A women’s march also took place in Byron Bay, in northern NSW, with attendees gathering at Main Beach to stand in solidarity with Israeli women and girls who have been raped and assaulted at the hands of Hamas.

On Saturday, dozens of pro-Palestinian trade unionists set up picket lines at the Port of Fremantle in Western Australia in an attempt to stop a ship owned by ZIM, an Israeli shipping company, from sailing.

More than 15,000 people in the Gaza Strip have died since Israel declared war on Hamas on October 7 after Islamic militants crossed the border into southern Israel, killing 1200 people and taking more than 200 hostage.

The Australian government lists Hamas, which controls Gaza, as a terrorist organisation.

On Sunday, the US again called on Israel to avoid further harm to Palestinian civilians in its fight against Hamas.