Israeli-Palestine conflict: Man arrested for having Israeli flag at pro-Palestine rally in Sydney

Israeli-Palestine conflict: Man arrested for having Israeli flag at pro-Palestine rally in Sydney

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A man arrested in Sydney for waving an Israeli flag at a pro-Palestine event says NSW Police “should feel ashamed” of their response.

The 1000-strong Free Palestine protest in Sydney CBD came as warfare erupted in Israel and Palestine over the weekend, with the reignited violence already prompting hundreds of deaths on both sides.

Sydney businessman Mark Spiro attended the rally at Sydney Town Hall with a rolled-up Israeli flag for what he said was “literally three seconds” — but it was enough for police to arrest him.

Police quickly approached Mr Spiro and said he was being removed for “breaching the peace”, later telling Sky News he felt the officers’ actions were “excessive”.

“The next thing I know I’ve got multiple police officers trying to grab the flag off of me, then carry me away from the scene, telling me I’m arrested for breach of the peace,” he said.

“It was excessive and at the time having both your arms pinned back for effectively having a rolled up Israeli flag was shocking and confronting.”

The father-of-two managed to convince officers to give him a 24-hour ban from the city and surrendered his flag.

“The police should feel ashamed of themselves quite frankly. I was an innocent bystander with a rolled-up Israeli flag,” Mr Spiro said.

NSW Police Assistant Commissioner Tony Cooke defended the arrest on Tuesday, saying Mr Spiro was arrested “for his safety” after the unapproved rally took hold at the town hall and continued on to Sydney Opera House.

He said police have since launched an investigation into protesters’ behaviour at the rally, which quickly got out of hand when flares were set off outside the Opera House and a contingent of what organisers called “anti-Semitic attendees” joined the event.

A statement from Palestine Action Group Sydney maintained it was a peaceful rally and denounced the “tiny fringe of vile anti-Semitic attendees” who turned up, chanting phrases including “f… the Jews”.

Mr Cooke said despite the long-standing conflict clearly being a “very emotive issue across communities” police “do not expect people to bring conflict from other places to the streets of Sydney”.


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