A motorbike and truck convoy, making its way through Sydney’s east, has copped criticism from both pro-Israel and pro-Palestine supporters, and branded “psychological warfare.”
About a dozen riders from Al Quds community centre in Regents Park, their bikes adorned with Palestine flags, made their journey from Lidcombe to Coogee on Saturday evening, followed by utes.
Leading the convoy was organiser Zaky Mallah, the first Australian to be charged with terrorism offences after threatening to blow up ASIO and DFAT offices in 2003.
Escorted by police, the ride was largely uneventful until they reached Coogee, where nearly 100 protesters bearing Israel flags were waiting on the beachfront.
There was a tense standoff between the two groups, until police managed to separate them, and the riders continued on their way.
Prominent Palestine activist Fahad Ali joined a raft of Sydney’s Jewish community members condemning the ride.
“This is a deliberately provocative action. It has no strategic purpose. No one I know in the Palestinian community is on board with this,” he wrote on Twitter, now known as X.
Mr Ali said he couldn’t vouch for the group, and they’re not known to established organising groups.
“If things go awry, who is going to bear the consequences? We are. Palestinians organisers and the movement as a whole. My view on this is not going to shift,” he wrote.
NSW Jewish Board of Deputies President David Ossip was more scathing in his remarks, made despite Saturday being the Jewish holy day, Shabbat.
“There is no reason why a notionally peaceful anti-Israel or pro-Palestinian protest needs to make its way from Lidcombe to Coogee, it is clear that the route has been chosen for one purpose – to intimidate and scare the Jewish community,” Mr Ossip told The Daily Telegraph.
“This is psychological warfare and it should not be tolerated in Sydney. I share the outrage and frustration that the community is feeling.”
Vaucluse MP Kellie Sloane said she was “deeply troubled” by the motorcade.
“The pro-Palestinian motorcyclists have chosen a deliberately provocative route into the heart of Sydney’s largest Jewish community. There is no doubt in my mind this is designed to intimidate,” she wrote on X.
The motorcade protest came just hours after dozens of protesters, some creating a jetski blockade out on the water, rallied against Israeli shipping line ZIM after a ship of theirs declared their intention to dock in Botany Bay.
Palestine Justice Movement Sydney (PJMS) organised the protest, which kicked off about midday Saturday, ultimately causing those in command of the vessel to decide against docking.
Authorities had been hoping Saturday’s protests wouldn’t echo violent clashes seen in Melbourne on Friday night between pro-Palestine and pro-Israel demonstrators.
Originally published as Pro-Palestine motorbike convoy draws Sydney Jewish community criticism