Health worker: 'Everyone with a conscience must come together to stop Israel’s ethnic cleansing'

February 13, 2024
Djilang/Geelong came out for Palestine on February 10. Photo: Matt Hrkac

Several days before Israel’s ground invasion of Rafah, Gaza, tens of thousands of people took to streets across Australia for the 17th consecutive week of protests to demand the Labor government join the majority of the world in condemning Israel and breaking ties.

Free Palestine Geelong spokesperson and social worker Noor Al-Assafi, of Lebanese Iraqi descent, told a rally in Djilang/Geelong on February 10 that “everyone should come together to stop Israel’s ethnic cleansing”.

She mentioned a report published by Save the Children nearly two years ago that said Palestinian children’s mental health was already at a “breaking point”: 80% of children in Palestine report feeling a “perpetual state of fear, worry, sadness and grief”.

Al-Assafi said three quarters were bed wetting out of fear, and many were exhibiting PTSD [post traumatic stress disorder] years go.


Noor Al-Assafi. Photo: Matt Hrkac

“PTSD may not be the right term to use any more for the children of Palestine,” Al-Assafi said, because there is no “post” to their trauma.

“It’s ongoing; they live it every day.

“It breaks my heart knowing the sheer severity of the fear these children have experienced. It’s something that should inspire us all to come together to stop this ethnic cleansing campaign run by Israel.

“This is our chance to resist; this is our chance to be on the right side of history; to tell future generations that we did not sit back quietly and allow this to happen.

“No, we show that we spoke out; we were enraged; we were fueled by anger and love and resentment and justice and we did not stop talking about Palestine.”

Also on that day, more than 1000 people protested in Walyup/Fremantle. Friends of Palestine WA called for Australia to end its support for Israel’s genocidal war, cease all trade and diplomatic ties with apartheid Israel, restore UNRWA aid funding and push for an arms embargo against Israel while it continues to wage war on Palestinians.


Marching through the streets of Walyup/Fremantle. Photo: Alex Salmon

Alex Salmon reports that former WA premier Carmen Lawrence, Reverend Gemma Beasley of St Paul’s Anglican Church and Razzane Al Abdeli from the Palestinian community addressed the crowd before it marched through the streets of Walyup.

Thousands of pro-Palestinian protesters in Naarm/Melbourne protested on February 11 to demand an immediate ceasefire and for Labor to cut ties with Israel.

Jacob Andrewartha and Chloe DS report the crowd chanted “Free Free Palestine! The people united will never be defeated”, “Which illegal state is starving Palestinians? Israel!” and “Israel is a terrorist state!”

Egyptian Palestinian activist Muhammad Helmy, who addressed the protest, highlighted Egypt’s role in perpetuating the genocide in Gaza.

melbourne palestine rally

Thousands marched in Naarm/Melbourne. Photo: Jacob Andrewartha
Thousands marched in Naarm/Melbourne. Photo: Jacob Andrewartha

On the same day in Kaurna Yerta/Adelaide, around 1000 people gathered outside South Australia’s Parliament House to protest the continuing genocide.


Protest on the steps of Parliament House in Kaurna Yerta/Adelaide. Photo: Renfrey Clarke

Renfrey Clarke reports that student activists, health workers and a representative from Australian Friends of Palestine addressed the crowd before it marched through the city centre.

Thousands took the streets in Gadigal/Sydney on the same day, reports Zebedee Parkes.


Protest in Gadigal/Sydney. Photo: Zebedee Parkes


Byron Bay, February 11. Photo: Subhi Awad/Facebook

Susan Price reports from Bundjalung country that Northern Rivers Friends of Palestine held their 15th rally in Byron Bay on February 11.

Subhi Awad from NRFoP posted on Facebook: “This was our 15th and most powerful event yet. We marched right through Byron in a powerful display of solidarity with the Ceasefire Now global movement ... A huge and heartfelt thank you to every single person that marched, shouted and stood with us.”

The previous day, protesters gathered for the 16th week in a row on the Gold Coast and marched through the streets of Southport.


Gold Coast, February 10. Photo: Susan Price

[To find out about the next protest actions for Palestine, check the Green Left calendar.]

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