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Staff and students protest Israeli apartheid in Palestine

The protest highlighted how COVID-19 has exacerbated health injustices in Palestine.

Photography by Khanh Tran.

Around 30 staff and students gathered in front of Fisher Library today to stand in solidarity with Palestinians’ struggle against Israeli apartheid.

Organised by Students for Palestine and Sydney Staff for BDS (Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions), the protest was part of a global Israeli Apartheid Week.

Speaker Kim Murphy drew attention to how COVID-19 has exacerbated existing health injustices in Palestine, stating that even before the pandemic, it was the norm for Palestinians to be denied access to medical care.

“We’re in the 14th year of a total blockade on the territory of Gaza… So even before COVID, things like medical supplies, and building supplies to rebuild the hospitals that Israel had bombed, would be blocked.”

“Of course COVID happened, and [Israel] has used those conditions to intensify the oppression of Palestinians and the apartheid state that they run… It’s been denying the vaccine to millions and millions of Palestinians, and has also been using the COVID-19 situation as a precursor to block Palestinians in prison from speaking to their lawyers.”

Sydney University SRC Welfare Officer, Owen Marsden Readford, stressed that it was important for people to come out in solidarity due to the complicity of Australia in the Israeli apartheid.

“Our government [funds] Israel. Our university [has] deals with weapons manufacturers … the very tools that are used to enforce genocide and dispossession in Palestine”.

Dr Nicholas Reimer reminded protesters that the campaign for Palestine is part of a broader political campaign for justice, alongside refugee rights, Indigenous rights, and anti-racism.

“We know the contempt that our government has for anyone seeking asylum, for anyone fleeing persecution.” he said. “It’s impossible to fight against apartheid in Palestine without also acknowledging that Australia itself is a settler colony.”

The crowd then ended the rally with chants of “Free, Free Palestine, Free, Free Gaza.”

Footage by Khan Tran.