Cyclist Carrying Israeli Flag Attacked on Melbourne Streets

The man was dragged from his bike before being set upon by two men.
Cyclist Carrying Israeli Flag Attacked on Melbourne Streets
Members of the Australian Jewish community wave Israeli flags during a vigil in Sydney, Australia, on Oct. 11, 2023. (David Gray/AFP via Getty Images)
Rebecca Zhu

A cyclist was pulled to the ground and physically assaulted while riding through a busy Melbourne street flying an Israeli flag behind him.

Video of the incident shows a woman chasing after the cyclist, Ronen Martin-Cohen, in slow-moving traffic along Chapel Street, then grabbing the flag, and pulling the bike to the ground.

As he is seen arguing with the woman, two men run out and begin pushing, punching, and kicking Mr. Martin-Cohen, who then fell to the ground while attempting to defend himself.

Onlookers eventually step in to diffuse the situation and help Mr. Martin-Cohen back to his bike.

A small verbal argument then plays out between the men who allegedly assaulted Mr. Martin-Cohen, and a couple of bystanders.

Mr. Martin-Cohen was part of an Israeli convoy when the incident occurred, he told Nine News.

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

Mr. Martin-Cohen did not require medical treatment and police are investigating the incident.

It comes as tensions between Israel and Palestine supporters continue escalating in Melbourne.

Footage of a ute swerving dangerously close to a small group of people on a footpath, holding up Israeli flags was shared on social media.

The vehicle momentarily accelerated onto the curb before driving away.

The incident occurred on Nov. 10 in the suburb of Caulfield, which has a significant Jewish community.

At the same time, a pro-Palestinian rally was held near the local synagogue which eventually saw violent scenes unfold later that night

The rally was held in response to a local Palestinian-owned restaurant being destroyed by a fire.

Palestinian supporters gathered waving flags and chanting “From the river to the sea,” while local Jewish counter-protestors showed up with Israeli flags chanting “Bring them home,” referring to the hostages held by Hamas.

The synagogue was evacuated and Shabbat services were cancelled due to fears of the threat that the rally posed.

Hostilities erupted after the pro-Palestinian protestors charged forward and broke the police line separating the two groups, sparking physical clashes.

Organisers of the rally, Free Palestine Melbourne, said they had been unaware of the nearby synagogue when choosing its location.

“We apologise to the local Jewish community for the protest location that led to the evacuation of the synagogue, for any fear they may have felt, and for the cancellation of Shabbat,” the group said in a statement.

“We should not have gathered in this location. It was never our intention to disrupt or intimidate Jewish worshippers.”

They said the rally was to call for anti-racism after the burning of the restaurant.

“This was not a protest in support of Palestine, rather a solidarity protest with victims of an anti-Palestinian hate crime in Australia,” they said.

But Victorian Premier Jacinta Allan condemned the violence, calling it “deeply distressing” and unacceptable.

“We cannot let violence in the Middle East beget violence on the streets of Melbourne,” she said.

Compelling Students to Join

The Free Palestine Melbourne group has also planned a city-wide school strike in support of Palestine on Nov. 23.

On social media, they are encouraging school students to walk out of school during lunchtime to gather at Flinders St. Station in the city centre.

Shadow Foreign Affairs Minister Simon Birmingham said he was “deeply troubled” by the event.

“Schoolchildren really shouldn’t be dragged into sensitive activities and areas of, I think, great complexity in terms of how this conflict, its history, its origins, and ultimately, of course, the fact that some will seek to use them as voices,” Senator Birmingham told Sky News Australia.