Cyclist carrying Israeli flag set upon on busy Melbourne street

Cyclist carrying Israeli flag set upon on busy Melbourne street

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A cyclist who was carrying an Israeli flag has been attacked on a Melbourne shopping and dining strip in a clash fuelled by escalating local Israel-Palestine tensions.

Video obtained by 9News showed a laughing woman chasing after the cyclist on Chapel Street in South Yarra before she tried to remove the flag from his bicycle about 8pm yesterday.

The footage, captured by a witness, shows the man getting off his pushbike and falling over before he is set upon by two men.

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The dramatic altercation was stopped by onlookers who intervened.

The cyclist, Ronen Martin-Cohen, who was part of an Israeli convoy, told 9News he was ambushed.

“I was pushing to the ground and then they kicked me, mainly in the chest and back,” he said.

Police said they were investigating the alleged assault.

A Victoria Police spokesperson said the cyclist had displayed the flag on his bike after attending a rally.

“There is no place in our community for hate-based or discriminatory behaviour and Victoria Police will not tolerate antisemitic or Islamophobic incidents,” the spokesperson said.

“We take all reports of threats and or violence seriously, and members of the community are strongly encouraged to report any incidents of concern.”

No one involved in the altercation required medical treatment.

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It follows a tense weekend around the country amid escalating violence and Israel-Palestine protests.

Police are also trying to identify the driver of a Toyota Hilux van that mounted a curb on Friday, narrowly missing a man and a woman holding up Israeli flags.

Police have ramped up their presence in areas with increased protest activity, including in St Kilda, Caulfield and Balaclava, where there are high Jewish populations.

Victoria’s religious and political leaders are calling for calm.

Dr Dvir Ambramovich from the Anti-Defamation Commission said he was concerned by the tension on Melbourne streets.

“There is an epidemic of antisemitism that is spiralling out of control,” he said.

”Let’s make sure Melbourne is not torn apart by these tensions.”

The tension is not isolated to the Jewish community, with those attending peaceful pro-Palestine protests also facing abuse.

Adel Salman from the Islamic Council of Victoria said the tensions were creating an unsafe environment for Muslims.

“They’re being accused of supporting terrorism,” he said.

“We don’t want any aggression, we don’t want any violence and we don’t want any hate.”

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