Nine Palestinian flags have been hoisted in Melbourne’s Federation Square, in solidarity with civilians under threat in the Gaza Strip.
The flags were requested by the Australia Palestine Advocacy Network late in 2022, before the conflict began, and are an annual tradition to mark Palestinian National Day.
Pro-Palestine activists are set to gather at Federation Square tonight in a vigil commemorating civilian casualties since the Israel-Hamas conflict began on October 7.
There will be three speeches at the commemoration, which is scheduled to begin at 7:00pm.
Both the Victorian government and Melbourne Lord Mayor Sally Capp have stated they are not responsible for how Federation Square is used in cultural events.
President of the Zionist Federation of Australia Jeremy Leibler did not think the Palestinian flag was an insensitive symbol, but that Federation Square was reckless to fly it so soon after the outbreak of conflict between Israel and Hamas.
“Flying the flags within two weeks of Hamas, a designated terrorist organisation, committing the worst possible atrocities against Israelis since the Holocaust feels somewhat insensitive,” Mr Liebler said.
“We have no issue with the Palestinian people and its civilians, who are the victims of Hamas as much as the Israelis are victims of Hamas.
“But I feel very concerned about any double standard that is applied … I don’t think Federation Square would have flown an Afghanistan flag within two weeks of 9/11.”
Gaza and Casey Friends of Palestine spokesperson Dalya Sabawi called the vigil a chance to “honour and grieve for family and friends” while calling for “ceasefire and an end to the war crimes being perpetrated against the people of Gaza”.
“Every part of our community has been touched by the Israeli aggression on the people of Gaza in some way,” Mr Sabawi said in an interview with the Herald Sun.
“Some people have family unaccounted for, or relatives and friends killed in the bombings. Tonight’s vigil is a time for us to come together, reflect and grieve for our loved ones and to support each other.”