Over 1000 Palestinian supporters marched through central Wellington today in protest against Israel's bombardment of Gaza.They were protesting against Israel's air and ground offensive in Gaza and called on the New Zealand Government to end its neutral stance.
Gaza health officials reported that since the campaign began on Dec. 27 more than 550 Palestinians have been killed and 2,500 wounded, including 200 civilians
Speaking to march supporters today, Green MP Keith Locke said the people of New Zealand wanted their Government to take action.
He said the Government was hypocritical if it did not speak up against the "terrorist attacks" on the people of Gaza.
"Our Government should speak the truth.
"What we have to do is not sit on the sidelines ... we must be part of a coalition of the peaceful in this world."
The protesters delivered a letter to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade office on Lambton Quay and marched to Civic Square chanting to a drum beat, clapping and waving signs.
The group included business people on lunch breaks, students and families.
Inspector Simon Perry said the group was well behaved, had liaised with police prior to the march and had stuck to the bus lanes.
He said the group was "considerably larger" than expected.
Protest spokeswoman Serena Moran said "most other governments" had condemned the Israeli invasion.
"(Foreign Affairs Minister) Murray McCully is washing his hands of the horrendous Palestinian suffering in Gaza." Mr McCully said earlier the Government "is not prepared to choose sides".
Mr McCully said the Government's stance was in line with the international community, including the United Nations and European Union.
Labour's foreign affairs spokeswoman Helen Clark expressed concern that the United Nations Security Council had been unable to agree on a further call for a ceasefire to hostilities in Gaza.
"There is no road to peace between Israel and the Palestinians through this conflict in Gaza, but rather a deepening polarisation between the two sides which makes it even more difficult for a long term settlement to be achieved."
Israel today ignored mounting international calls for a cease-fire, saying it wouldn't stop its crippling 10-day assault until "peace and tranquility' are achieved in southern Israeli towns in the line of Palestinian rocket fire.
The Federation of Islamic Associations of New Zealand said it had "deep concern" about the Israeli attacks on Gaza.
It called on the Government and other world leaders to "come out strongly to censure Israel".
New Zealand's current stance was "shameful", it said.
Waikato Jewish Association spokesman Beni Tobias said the Israeli government was doing what was necessary to protect its citizens, and that its actions were justified by international law.