Supporters of Israel, Palestinians rally in Australia

Tens of thousands of people in Australia supporting the Israeli or Palestinian sides held rallies across the country at the weekend.

Organizers of the pro-Palestinian rally in Sydney say it drew 50,000 people. People waved Palestinian flags and held signs saying, "We Stand with Gaza" and "Bring Peace to Palestine." Similar events have been held every weekend since the conflict erupted early last month.

Sam Parkinson, a participant at the rally, described the issue between Palestine and Israel as "complex," but added: "What's happening right now is very straightforward, and we need a ceasefire. There's no justification for what's happening right now in Gaza."

Meanwhile, people at a pro-Israeli protest in the city called for the immediate release of over 200 hostages held by militants in Gaza. Organizers said several thousand people took part.

Its organizer, Avi Efrat, said in a speech, "We are here today to bring awareness about the hostages, and our call to action is to put pressure on the Australian government to help release our people."

Chris Minns, the premier of New South Wales, whose capital is Sydney, disclosed that policing the rallies cost some 640,000 US dollars. He said the money was spent not just to maintain safety, but also to check racial vilification and hate speech.

Both Islamophobic and anti-Semitic incidents have reportedly been on the rise in Australia since the start of the latest conflict.