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Two men have been charged with offensive behaviour after they attempted to destroy posters that were part of a memorial at Bondi Beach for Israeli hostages taken by Hamas.
The memorial, comprising 230 blue and white beach towels, thongs and “kidnapped” posters, spanned more than 100 metres along the concourse.
Around 2pm, two men attended the memorial and removed several posters.
The memorial on the Bondi Beach concourse on Thursday.Credit: Dion Georgopoulos
A video of the incident showed the men with some of the posters in their hands. One of the men said: “The hostages aren’t here.” Members of the community responded: “They’re our family.”
On Friday, NSW Police spoke to a 25-year-old man at a Granville home and a 40-year-old at a home in Bankstown, issuing both men with criminal infringement notices carrying a fine of $500.
The altercations comes amid escalating tensions in Australia over the Israel-Hamas conflict.
The Executive Council of Australian Jewry co-chief executive officer Alex Ryvchin told this masthead on Thursday it was “completely unacceptable and contrary to Australian values to vandalise and attempt to destroy this display”.
Previous memorials set up by Sydney’s Jewish community have included red balloons and “missing” shoes, and Shabbat tables with empty places set to symbolise the missing hostages.
The towels at Bondi Beach were accompanied by a pair of thongs and beach toys such as buckets and spades, in what was intended as a uniquely Australian take on honouring the hostages.
An organiser of the event, who did not want to be named for security reasons because they feared for their safety, said on Thursday it was intended to raise awareness for “the innocent civilians abducted and held hostage in Gaza”.
“We want our family to be returned. There are also many non-Israeli hostages. It was not about any other statement regarding the Israeli–Palestinian conflict. It is about the people.”
Premier Chris Minns has described the incident as “very concerning”.
“The community put these posters up to remember family and friends who are victims of a terrorist attack,” he said on Thursday.
Waverley Council mayor Paula Masselos said she was upset by what she saw in the video, “but I understand that people are hurting and passions are running high”.
“We need to come together to support each other during this time of heartbreak for many, and to be able to get through this. Our main concern is to keep the community safe,” she said on Thursday.
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