A peaceful tribute to the 240 hostages – including young children and the elderly – taken captive nearly a month ago was set up at Sydney‘s Bondi Beach on Thursday morning.
The display featured posters of the hostages, who are believed to still be in Gaza, with the word ‘Kidnapped’ at the top.
More than 240 blue and white towels, the colours of the Israeli flag, were draped over the railings at the beach, along with thongs and toys on the pavement.
But alarming footage showed two men tearing down the posters.
Now the men, from western Sydney, have been fined for offensive behaviour.
Australians have clashed over the Israel-Palestine conflict at Sydney’s Bondi Beach after two men attempted to destroy posters of Israelis who were taken hostage by Hamas terrorists
‘Police attended a Granville home and spoke to a 25-year-old and a 40-year-old at a Bankstown home,’ a spokesperson for NSW Police said.
‘Both men have been issued criminal infringement notices (CIN) for offensive behaviour, which carries a fine of $500.’
Footage of the incident shows the two men being confronted by the tribute organisers who demand they leave.
‘They’re not here,’ one of the men says as he clutches several posters in his hand.
‘This is my family!’ one woman responds.
‘They’re not your family,’ the man says.
The two groups continue arguing, with the same man telling the woman to ‘calm down’.
Multiple bystanders step in to tell the men to ‘leave it [the display] alone’.
‘It’s our community, leave it alone. It’s got nothing to do with you,’ one woman tells them.
The pair are seen scrunching up the posters as the group urges them to leave them alone. One then threatens to call the police.
‘We don’t need to bring this violence here,’ one of the men argues.
‘Yeah, but you are, you are!’ one of the women replied. ‘Please go.’
A peaceful tribute to the 230 hostages taken captive by the terrorist group Hamas was set up on Bondi Beach promenade
Footage shows two men approach the display, which had been approved by the local council and police, and begin tearing down the posters as organisers confronted them
The Australian Jewish Association said the men ‘damaged and stole six signs’.
‘It was a heart-warming gesture to see the display of 240 towels and pairs of thongs by young members of the Jewish community who gathered at Bondi Beach to show that the hostages kidnapped by Hamas are not forgotten,’ chief executive Robert Gregory told Daily Mail Australia.
‘The Jewish community should be able to gather like any other Australians. Vandalising pictures of kidnapped children is heartless, depraved and un-Australian.
‘Anyone who feels the need to rip up pictures of kidnapped kids clearly doesn’t have an argument to make.’
The Executive Council of Australian Jewry co-chief executive officer Alex Ryvchin said the actions of the men were ‘completely unacceptable and contrary to Australian values to vandalise and attempt to destroy this display’.
‘Australians have a right to peaceful, dignified displays that bring attention to the plight of their loved ones hauled off into captivity by a terrorist organisation,’ Mr Ryvchin told The Sydney Morning Herald.
‘It is bad enough that anyone would object to a display that reveals the horrors of terrorism and the trauma of the Jewish world.’
Multiple people tell the men in the video to leave the display alone and to go away. The organisers reported the incident to police, who are investigating
Sky News Australia reporter Sharri Markson, who has Jewish heritage, shared the footage to her social media.
‘In Bondi today, men rip down posters of Israeli women and children who are being held hostage by Hamas,’ she wrote.
‘A peaceful and beautiful tribute, to remember those who are still being held captive by terrorists in Gaza tunnels, was violated by fellow Australians.’
One of the organisers said the display was an art installation designed to raise awareness about ‘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,’ they said.
A Criminal Infringement Notice does not automatically result in a criminal conviction, unless it is appealed and heard at court.
A conviction at court will result in a criminal record. It is not known whether the two men will appeal their fines.