The kids are not alright, they are angry and passionate. It’s almost unsettling – they shouldn’t know what it is to feel this way.
A dozen children led the protest from Hyde Park, through Eora, on Saturday. Pushing along strollers, some taller than themselves, drenched in fake blood – mirroring the reality of the people of Gaza.
When we talk about the ‘people’ of Gaza, we are speaking of a population whose median age is 18 years old with 65 per cent young people under 24.
Israel’s constant bombing of Gaza is seen by protesters as a “collective punishment” targeting the most helpless… children.
Hamas’ attacks on Israel on October 7, killed 1,400 people, while an estimated 220 were taken hostage, while Israel’s response has resulted in the deaths of more than 9,500 Palestinians in Gaza, 3,900 of whom were children. An unknown number of bodies still lay beneath the rubble of bombed buildings – yet to be accounted for.
We have police protecting us and they are there getting bombed… they are over there just in pain.
The rally took place hours after reports of attacks on hospitals, schools and mosques contributed to the mounting death toll from four weeks of counterattacks.
Aliza, a 12-year-old at the rally, which was attended by about 15,000 people, seemed wise beyond her years and carried anger in every word she spoke. The weight of being a child in safe Sydney while Palestinian children were being killed seemed to sit heavily on her heart.
“Seeing the videos of what the Palestinian kids are going through and families getting separated slowly, they don’t deserve it,” she said, her eyes darting around the sea of people. “You look at it and it’s heartbreaking… look at us.
“We have police protecting us and they are there getting bombed… they are over there just in pain.”
Aliza’s 17-year-old sister Jasmine, who is just finishing high school, said this experience at her age would change what she wants to do in her life, redirecting from a “normal career” to helping people like the Palestinian community.
The protest has seen people from all walks of life, shoulder to shoulder, calling for the Australian government to do more.
“Albo Albo you can’t hide! You’re supporting genocide!” is a popular chant at the rallies, in reference to Australia abstaining from signing the UN’s call for a ceasefire.
Australia was one of 45 countries that were indifferent to the UN’s call for a ceasefire refusing to sign as it did not name Hamas as the perpetrators of the attacks.
The government has condemned the attacks from both sides. But condemning is not enough for the tens of thousands of protesters who have assembled for the past four weekends and vow to keep protesting until there is a ceasefire.
However, it has also been criticised by Opposition Leader Peter Dutton for not showing enough support for Israel.
After meeting with Arab Australians who have lost family in Gaza, Prime Minister Anthony Albanese said: “They are quite right to be traumatised and want their government to speak up for them just as the government has spoken up for the loss of Israeli lives.”
There have also been concerns of antisemitism growing in Australia becasue of the ‘conflict’.
Shula Kirovsky, from Jews against the Occupation, attended Saturday’s rally and spoke of a heightening of antisemitism in her own community as well as Islamophobia throughout Australia.
“But you do need to remember that sometimes… I’ve seen where Zionists are calling things antisemitic,” she said.
“I think that is part of the problem that Israel has created itself, by conflating the two. Conflating antisemitism with anti-Zionism because it serves its purpose.”
Main picture of children protesters in Hyde Park on Saturday by Melody Kiptoo.