Canberra Jews rally to support Israel

University student Noey Kolt, 20, addresses the rally outside the Israeli embassy as Labor MP Mike Kelly watches on.
University student Noey Kolt, 20, addresses the rally outside the Israeli embassy as Labor MP Mike Kelly watches on.

"More hummus, less Hamas," read one placard held by a smiling woman at Sunday's rally of support for Israel.

Yet six carloads of federal police, and a healthy number of secret service and security staff, marked the grimmer reality of what the conflict in the Jewish state means – even in distant Canberra.

About 50 people gathered outside the Israeli embassy in Yarralumla to call for peace and to support the nation's right to self-defence.

Similar rallies are being held in Melbourne, Sydney in Perth.

Militants in the Gaza Strip fired hundreds of rockets into Israel last week, while Israel has bombed the territory and is amassing ground troops on the border.

The crowd at Sunday's rally wore red to highlight the constant danger under which many Israelis live, especially those in the south near the strip.

Israel's ambassador to Australia, Yuval Rotem, explained that a "code red" alert marked an impending attack.

"Code red is also a new state of mind, because there's a new generation of Israelis who are now brought up ... with the knowledge that, when they hear the siren ... indicating the rockets are coming in, they have only 15 seconds to flee for their own life," he said.

"It's a very difficult concept for people over here in Australia to understand."

Federal Labor MP Mike Kelly addressed the rally to condemn Hamas, the party that rules the Palestinian territories, as a terrorist organisation.

He said Hamas was uninterested in peace, and wanted to destroy the Jewish state and all Jews.

Dr Kelly said the Palestinian regime had scuttled elections and had "a shocking record of maiming, of torturing, of human rights abuses, of denying people due process, of summary and extrajudicial executions".

"People are dragged away in the middle of the night and shot through their legs. This is their standard operating procedure ...

"Anybody who's interested in social progression, in social democracy, should in no way be supporting an organisation like this, which has an extremist, Islamist, mediaeval mindset."

Dr Kelly, who is the parliamentary secretary for defence, said Israel was acting within international law and had the right to defend itself.

He also praised the care with which its military was trying to avoid civilian casualties.

This story Canberra Jews rally to support Israel first appeared on The Sydney Morning Herald.