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Police powers a 'draconian attack' on right to protest

Police stand accused of vilifying people who want to show solidarity after NSW officials flagged using "extraordinary powers" to target planned pro-Palestine protests.

Organisers from the Palestine Action Group Sydney said Palestinian Australians had essentially been told they had no right to grieve or protest war crimes in Gaza.

"What we have seen in the past week in NSW is a draconian attack on our right to demonstrate in solidarity with the people of Palestine, who are currently facing a genocide in Gaza," co-organiser Amal Naser said.

Protests are planned for Canberra, Perth and Brisbane on Friday and organisers are pushing ahead with rallies in Melbourne, Sydney and Adelaide over the weekend.

The rallies erupted after Israel launched retaliatory strikes in Gaza following the deaths of more than 1000 people at the hands of Hamas militants.

Some attendees at a Sydney protest on Monday chanted anti-Jewish slurs and set off flares at the Opera House, sparking condemnation from state and federal politicians and Jewish community groups.

NSW Police urged people not to attend a planned second gathering in Hyde Park on Sunday, despite organisers promising it would be a peaceful gathering.

Acting Commissioner Dave Hudson said police had requested authorisation to use rarely deployed "special powers" to search people and demand their identities at the rally.

"I urge people considering entering the city to reconsider," he said.

"We are worried that a potentially violent protest will infringe upon the free movement of people who are here with their families to enjoy what hopefully will be a pleasant day within the city."

Mr Hudson said there were peaceful alternatives for people to voice their opinions on the conflict in Israel.

"People do have a right to protest but there are responsibilities that come with it and that's to hold it in a peaceful manner, which is not the behaviour we saw on Monday," he said.

A significant police presence is expected in Sydney's city centre and the broader metropolitan area on Sunday.

In Queensland, police are confident a protest in Brisbane's King George Square from 6pm on Friday will run smoothly but have warned violence will not be tolerated.

The force has liaised this week with Islamic groups and the Israeli Jewish community and increased patrols around places of worship.

Queensland Assistant Commissioner Brian Connors asked the several hundred protesters expected at Friday's rally to be respectful and to obey police instructions.

"If we believe that people are behaving in a manner that threatens community safety, offends or incites violence, we will be swift and decisive," he said.

Australia Palestine Advocacy Network president Nasser Mashni said he was very disappointed by the planned police response.

"Australians of Palestinian ancestry, who want to show support for Palestine, have somehow all been lumped in with 10 or 15 people who absolutely, unacceptably used some anti-Semitic slurs," he told Sky News.

"If Palestinians and Australians who support Palestine can't come out and express a concern about (the events in Israel) without being vilified as being supporters of violence, that's just outrageous, that's not the Australia we know."

Foreign Minister Penny Wong called for calm after Opposition Leader Peter Dutton said non-citizens who spouted hate speech at the rallies should be deported.

"This is not a time for certain politicians to be seeking to play into the fear and division in the community, it is time for all of us to say we stand against all hatred, all prejudice," she said.


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