Police have charged a man after an altercation over a Palestinian flag near Sydney’s most famous beach, with frightening footage emerging of the moment before the incident.
It’s alleged the 19-year-old driver of a silver Toyota Corolla hatchback was travelling along Old South Head Road when it passed a Mercedes sedan - packed with four 17-year-old boys - about 10.10pm on Wednesday.
The driver of the hatchback suddenly performed a U-turn and followed the Mercedes before both cars pulled over.
A verbal argument erupted between the two drivers before things allegedly took a turn.
“The driver’s side mirror of the hatchback was smashed by a rock, before the vehicle drove away and attended a nearby service station, with the sedan arriving a short time later,” a NSW Police spokesperson alleged.
Video shared to social media by the Australian Jewish Association shows a convoy of four cars travelling along Old South Head Road with multiple Palestine flags flying out of their windows before the incident took place.
Police have confirmed the video is linked to the alleged altercation.
Within ten minutes, police patrolling the area pulled into the petrol station, where the 19-year-old and the four 17-year-old’s had exited their car and another verbal altercation had allegedly broken out.
Officers separated the groups, telling those involved they were acting aggressive.
No one was injured in the incident.
Following inquiries, the 19-year-old hatchback driver was arrested at a home in Bondi at about 12pm on Thursday.
He was taken to Bondi Police Station where he was charged with affray and using an offensive implement with intent to commit an indictable offence.
He was granted bail and will appear in Waverley court on December 12.
“The four teens will be dealt with in accordance with the Young Offenders Act,” NSW Police said of the four 17-year-olds also allegedly involved.
The Australian Jewish Association (AJA) claimed in a post shared to the social media platform X - formerly known as Twitter -that the fight broke out over a Palestinian flag being flown from a car.
They claimed that they were told the four men got into an “altercation” with a young Jewish man at a petrol station before allegedly smashing the window of his car.
“All four of them got out of the car and attempted to fight him. They threatened to ‘shank’ him. At this point police arrived,” the group claimed on social media.
This is the picture the victim provided us. pic.twitter.com/Hhg1OrTuIP
— Australian Jewish Association (@AustralianJA) November 15, 2023
Witnesses told 2GB radio station that police seized a hockey stick and a tool.
Police confirmed that a number of items were seized and will undergo forensic examination.
No injuries were reported.
Police would not confirm whether they will allege the incident was racially motivated.
Jewish community responds to the incident
Chair of the Anti-Defamation Commission, Australia’s leading civil rights organisation fighting anti-Semitism, Dr Dvir Abramovich said he condemned any incident sowing anti-Jewish sentiment.
“Something very wrong is happening in our nation, and as anti-Jewish incidents surge to all time high, driven by the conflict between Israel and Hamas, it’s clear that all the moral guardrails that we took for granted have fallen off,” he said.
“No one should ever be targeted and singled out for violence, and if police determines that this incident, which is shocking on many levels, was driven by antisemitism and anti-Israel motivations, it should be treated as a hate-crime.”
The Australia Palestine Advocacy Network was contacted but did not wish to comment.