Around one thousand pro-Palestine protestors have gathered at Aotea Square in Auckland’s city centre this afternoon calling for a ceasefire to the Israel-Hamas war.
Dozens of Palestinian flags were seen among the congregation that included Green Party co-leader Marama Davidson and MP Ricardo Menéndez March.
The rally began walking down Queen St to the US Consulate on Customs St shortly before 3pm today.
A large police presence is also monitoring and chaperoning the march down Queen St which has completely closed the street.
Chants of “shame” arise from the crowd every time speakers at the event reference the recent US veto of the UN ceasefire resolution.
The United States vetoed a United Nations resolution on Friday backed by almost all other Security Council members and many other nations demanding an immediate humanitarian ceasefire in Gaza.
Hundreds of protesters take their march down Auckland's Queen St. Photo / Alex Burton
The crowd also chanted: “Ceasefire. When do we want it? Now.”
A stage has been set up near the Queen St side of Aotea Square with a “Free Palestine” banner with both the Palestine flag and the Tino Rangatiratanga flag, also known as the national Māori flag.
Protesters were seen taping images of Palestinian children that have died in the conflict to the glass entrance of the US Consulate.
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Police have cordoned off Customs St between Commerce St and Queen St.
The rally began at 2pm in Aotea Square before the group marches along Queen St towards the Ministry of Foreign Affairs office.
Posters for the protest describe it as the “biggest for Palestine in NZ history”.
“Bring your keffiyehs, flags, whānau, friends, kids, neighbours, workmates, banners and posters,” a post by the Palestinian Youth Aotearoa group to social media read.
Hundreds flocked to the Auckland CBD on December 10, 2023, to call for a ceasefire to the Israel-Hamas war. Photo / David Williams
With the war now in its third month, the Palestinian death toll in Gaza has surpassed 17,400, the majority women and children, according to the Health Ministry in the Hamas-controlled territory. The ministry does not differentiate between civilian and combatant deaths.
Most recently, Israeli warplanes struck parts of the Gaza Strip in relentless bombardment, hitting some of the dwindling bits of land it had told Palestinians to evacuate to in the south.
The strikes came a day after the United States vetoed a United Nations Security Council resolution demanding an immediate humanitarian ceasefire in Gaza, despite its wide support.
Gaza residents “are being told to move like human pinballs — ricocheting between ever-smaller slivers of the south, without any of the basics for survival,” UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres told the council before the vote.
Police guide the Palestine protest as it continues to march down Queen St. Photo / Alex Burton
Guterres said Gaza was at a “breaking point” with the humanitarian support system at risk of collapse, and that he feared “the consequences could be devastating for the security of the entire region”.
Earlier this week, a senior Labour MP accused Israel of carrying out genocide in Gaza in a heated Parliamentary debate regarding Government support for a ceasefire during question times.
Foreign Minister and Deputy Prime Minister Winston Peters put forward a motion calling on all parties involved in the conflict - including countries with influence in the region - to “take urgent steps towards establishing a ceasefire”.
The motion was supported by all parties but debate drew some heated discussion and proposed amendments from the Green Party and Labour that it better recognised the loss of lives, including over 16,000 in Palestine and about 1200 in Israel, and called for an “immediate and permanent ceasefire” rather than “steps towards” one.
Labour’s associate foreign affairs spokesman Damien O’Connor said what was happening in Gaza was “nothing more than a genocide”.
United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres invoked a rarely used article of the UN charter described as the most powerful tool he has, to warn of the “severe risk of collapse of the humanitarian system in Gaza” and urged the Security Council to intervene.
It is the first time this power has been used since Guterres became Secretary-General in 2017.
Rachel Maher is an Auckland-based reporter who covers breaking news. She has worked for the Herald since 2022.
- Additional reporting by AP
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