Marches will continue until permanent ceasefire established: organisers

Demonstrators calling for an immediate ceasefire in Gaza walk through the Octagon, in Dunedin, on...
Demonstrators calling for an immediate ceasefire in Gaza walk through the Octagon, in Dunedin, on Saturday. PHOTO: GERARD O’BRIEN
Organisers of a pro-Palestine rally in Dunedin say they will continue their efforts throughout the month unless there is a permanent ceasefire agreement in the Israel-Hamas conflict in Gaza.

Several hundred people marched from Tuhura Otago Museum to the Octagon on Saturday in support of the Palestine community.

The latest conflict started on October 7, when Hamas launched attacks into southern Israel, killing about 1200 people, mostly civilians, and taking about 240 people hostage.

This led to Israeli air and ground assaults in Gaza.

At least 17,500 Palestinians have been killed since then.

Rally co-organiser Rinad Tamimi, who is from Hebron in the West Bank, told the Otago Daily Times the organisers intended to hold a rally every Saturday for the next three weeks unless a permanent ceasefire agreement was reached.

Rallies worldwide had been influential in highlighting the issues, she said.

"It took 40 days for the opposition Labour Party in New Zealand to start calling for a permanent and lasting ceasefire. We are asking the New Zealand government to do the same.

"This is simply about human rights.

"Seeing so many people turn up to these rallies is huge, but this grief we’re feeling, it hasn’t got any easier."

Dima Saadoni, who is from Gaza, spoke at the rally.

She said she did not know where her family was, and had just heard one of her friends had been killed in Israel’s assault.

"This is war that has been done under the shadow of self-defence.

"These are innocent civilians who just wanted a peaceful life.

"How long will the Palestinian people pay the price for simply being Palestinian?"

Rally co-organiser Brandon Johnstone said the international community had opened up the discussion, and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was "scared".

"We want a ceasefire ... we must see an end to the occupation", he said.