Windows were smashed and slogans daubed at Melbourne's US consulate.
Windows were smashed and slogans daubed at the US consulate in Melbourne. Image by James Ross/AAP PHOTOS
  • unrest, conflicts and war

Rallies decry Rafah offensive as police probe vandalism

Cassandra Morgan June 1, 2024

Pro-Palestine protesters are set to hold weekend rallies against Israel’s offensive in Rafah as police investigate vandalism at MPs’ offices.

Melburnian protesters are expected to gather at member for Lalor Joanne Ryan’s electorate office at Werribee in Melbourne’s southwest on Saturday in a rally for Rafah.

Activists had proclaimed Friday a a “national day of action against Labor MPs”.

Victoria Police is investigating after MPs’ offices at St Kilda Road in Melbourne, Mordialloc, Moonee Ponds and Northcote were vandalised.

“It is believed red paint was thrown at offices from 4am,” a police spokeswoman said on Friday night.

“All incidents will be thoroughly investigated.”

Melburnian protesters were expected to gather at the city’s State Library on Sunday, with Free Palestine Melbourne issuing a call to action, saying: “Rafah is burning”.  

In Sydney, protesters planled to come together at Hyde Park on Sunday to decry the “Rafah massacre”, and call on Australia to cut ties with Israel and hit it with sanctions.

“For months the world told Israel not to invade Rafah,” the Palestine Action Group Sydney said on Facebook.

“This massacre sums up the last (eight) months of genocidal brutality.”

The United States Consulate building in Melbourne and several MPs’ offices were vandalised on Friday, with NDIS and Government Services Minister Bill Shorten among politicians targeted.

“People have got a right to feel strongly about the distressing scenes in Gaza and in Israel but there’s a line and you don’t cross it,” Mr Shorten told reporters on Friday.

“The idea you are saying you’re protesting for peace by being violent is like burning books for literacy – it’s just rubbish.”

Damage to the US consulate in Melbourne.
 Foreign Minister Penny Wong said violence, including smashing windows, was not acceptable. Image by James Ross/AAP PHOTOS 

Minister for Foreign Affairs Penny Wong said violence, including smashing windows, was not acceptable.

“We have said to Israel, do not go down this path but we should rightly condemn protests which are violent and which are hateful and aggressive,” she said.

Israel pressed on with its Rafah offensive on Thursday, a day after saying its forces had taken control of a buffer zone along the nearby border between the Gaza Strip and Egypt, giving it effective authority over Gaza’s entire land frontier.

Gaza medical sources said 12 Palestinians, whom it said were civilians, had been killed and an unspecified number of others wounded in an Israeli airstrike as they tried to recover the body of a civilian in the centre of Rafah.

Israel has kept up raids on Rafah despite an order by the International Court of Justice, the top UN court, to halt the attacks.

Israel said its forces had killed 300 Palestinian gunmen in the city since May 6, when it launched what it has called a push to root out Hamas fighters and rescue hostages. The ICJ also called for the release of hostages held in Gaza by Hamas.

On October 7, Hamas attacked Israel, killing 1200 people and taking more than 200 hostages, according to Tel Aviv.

In response, Israel launched air strikes and a ground invasion of the Gaza strip that, according to the local health ministry, has killed more than 36,000 Palestinians, injured more than 80,000 and displaced more than 1.7 million.

With Reuters