NSW Police have been granted an order to prevent protesters from demonstrating at the Israeli Film Festival in Sydney on Thursday. But protesters insist they have a right to be heard.
A New South Wales Supreme Court judge will grant NSW police an order to prohibit Palestinian protesters demonstrating at the opening of this year’s Australian Israeli Film Festival.
NSW Police summoned the Palestine Action Group to the Supreme Court, in a last-minute effort to stop the peak-hour protest.
Palestine Action Group organiser, Damian Ridgwell, said the festival "only serves to whitewash Israel's history of dispossession of the Palestinians.”
About 1000 people were expected to attend the protest.
A statement issued by police yesterday said the “proposed time and location of this protest will cause significant disruption.. cause major traffic issues and safety risks for protesters and members of the public."
Protesters could come face to face with Israeli dignitaries and community members expected to attend the event.
Mr Ridgwell said the organisers followed all the proper processes for notifying police of the protest several days ago and they were a group of mostly students and workers who couldn't afford to dedicate time and money to a Supreme Court battle.
“There have been demonstrations only last year on Oxford Street last year, at similar times, at similar locations, around different issues which the police have facilitated and not take people to court.” said Mr Ridgwell.
But protesters who attended yesterday’s court hearing insist they have a right to be heard.
Australian-Palestinian man, Wail Dahmouni said Palestinians have a right to protest, just as the Israeli Film Festival has the right to be held.
“We're going like peaceful. So people can hear us and support us. And they have to understand the conflict.” Mr Dahmouni said.
Pakistani woman, Hana Khan, said she wants to show her to support to the Palestinian cause.
“We're being violated of our rights to protest, freedom of speech, and we have the right to stand up for what we believe in.” Ms Kahn said.
The Israeli Film Festival, organised by the Australia Israel Cultural Exchange (AICE), is an annual event presenting contemporary Israeli cinema to an Australian audience.
Israeli Film Festival spokesman, Keith Lawrence, says it’s unfortunate Israeli artists are being sucked into the political debate.
“People are demonstrating against their films, simply because of that particular government. Let the films say for themselves what it is that they're saying.” Mr Lawrence said.
Demonstrations are also organised for the festival in Adelaide, Perth and Brisbane.
The Israeli Film Festival opens on Thursday.