Palestine protesters poised for fight over stand-off

A group of pro-Palestine activists charged after a stand-off on the roof of a Melbourne factory say they will fight criminal charges on the basis the business manufactures fighter jet parts used in Gaza.

The eight protesters were arrested on February 19, several hours after they climbed onto the roof of Rosebank Engineering's aircraft components manufacturing facility at Bayswater in the city's east.

The group said the business manufactured parts for fighter jets exported and used by the Israel Defence Forces in Gaza - a claim lawyer Madeleine Toohey on Thursday said amounted to a "sudden or extraordinary defence" for the activists.

The company had admitted as much and the protesters would dispute their cases on those grounds, Ms Toohey told Ringwood Magistrates Court.

Protestesters on the factory roof (file image)
The protesters claim Rosebank Engineering manufactured parts for Israeli fighter jets in Gaza.

In response, Magistrate Andrew Sim asked: “This is a court of law, not a court  of public opinion - how would that evidence be adduced on behalf of your clients?"

Ms Toohey said she did not know.

After standing the matter down, the magistrate said the protesters' claim would have to be analysed in court.

"I just ask the parties to consider … how they expect to illicit evidence in an admissible form before the court (and) whether that will require any expert evidence," Mr Sim said.

“You may well be delving into the areas of international humanitarian law … it can get pretty complicated."

The protesters - Gaye Demanuele, Bede Mccartney-Kemp, Emily Wood Trounce, Juliet Lamont, Rebecca Adams, Coco Aboukater, Lilli Lovegrove and Katherine Moore - will face a contest mention on October 2.

They waved goodbye to each other on a video link after Thursday's hearing.

Each of the protesters was charged with trespass, and damaging walls and windows at Rosebank Engineering.

They were also charged with either disguising or blackening their faces with unlawful intent, or possessing an article of disguise during the February 19 protest.

Ms Demanuele addressed media after the protest as the spokeswoman for the Whistleblowers, Activists and Communities Alliance.

Intergenerational conflicts in the Middle East between Palestinians and Israelis escalated on October 7 when Islamist militants linked to Hamas attacked southern Israel from Gaza.

More than 1200 people died and up to another 200 were taken hostage, according to the United Nations.

Israel’s subsequent military action has resulted in the deaths of more than 38,000 people in Gaza, with the UN citing unconfirmed data provided by the local ministry of health and Gaza Government Media Office.

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