Police were called to escort a group of about 12 human rights
protesters out of the Pak'N Save supermarket in Mill St, Hamilton, yesterday .
The multicultural organisation called Palestine Human
Rights Campaign Waikato had entered the store and were distributing
leaflets calling on customers not to buy goods made in Israel.
organiser Ahmed Khaled said the protest was aimed at raising awareness
of ongoing violence and the persecution of people in the Gaza Strip.
"We don't want to single out Pak'N Save."
lengthy conflict has escalated this year. Between July 8 and August 27,
more than 2100 Palestinians were killed in Gaza, and 66 Israeli
soldiers and seven civilians in Israel. The United Nations says most of
the Palestinians were civilians.
Pak'N Save store manager Stefan
Hance had previously asked the group to restrict their activities to the
roadside kerb outside the supermarket ? however it was not long before
they walked in and quickly dispersed throughout the store, quietly
handing out flyers and talking to shoppers about why they were there.
of the group wheeled in shopping trolleys and before long homed in on a
display stand with Beigel and Biegel Pretzels, one of the Israeli-made
products on sale. After packing the pretzel packets into the trolley,
Ruba Niza, another member of the group, sprinkled rose petals over them ?
a move she said signified the peaceful nature of their visit.
The protesters spent about 20 minutes inside the store before the police arrived, and once told to leave they complied.
the group were American Kate Hayward, who has lived in Hamilton for 27
years, and John Mandelberg, a Jewish American who said he and many of
his ethnicity had great sympathy for the Palestinian people.
"There is no need for [the conflict]. I can't understand why so many Israelis are so afraid of Palestinians."
Committee member Bruce Clark said he hoped the protest would be the first of many.
are getting killed over there all the time, but our news does not cover
it. All we are doing is sticking up for people with no voice."
corporate public relations director Antoinette Laird said the company
had no issue with people protesting peacefully, however it reserved the
right to stock whatever goods it deemed appropriate.
customers can vote with their wallets. If there is demand for a
particular item, we will continue to stock it." She would not be drawn
on whether the company had an ethical responsibility not to sell
products sourced from Israel or the West Bank.
"We don't get involved in political discussions. Pak'N Save is not a political brand."
Information on the group can be found on: facebook.com/pages/Palestine-Human-Rights-Campaign-Waikato/.
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