Shocking video footage has emerged revealing the moment a Burger store in Melbourne was engulfed in flames, prompting a series of fierce protests between supporters of Israel and Palestine. The Caulfield branch of Burgertory, located in Melbourne's south-east, was completely gutted by the fire which broke out at approximately 4am on Friday. Fortunately, there were no individuals inside the restaurant during the incident.
The video shows a white-hot flash and appears to capture an explosion within the store. Following the explosion, two figures wearing hoodies can be seen fleeing the scene. Ten fire crews fought the flames for around half an hour, but the restaurant suffered significant damage, including shattered glass windows.
The franchise's CEO, Hash Tayeh, had recently been at the center of controversy for leading chants of 'From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free' at a Melbourne rally two weeks prior. The incident has since spurred a series of tensions and subsequent clashes in the area known for its large Jewish population.
Just hours after the fire, clashes erupted between pro-Israel and pro-Palestine supporters near a nearby convenience store, resulting in major protests involving approximately 400 people taking place on Friday night. Free Palestine Melbourne has since apologized for their protest near the Caulfield Jewish synagogue, which led to its evacuation.
In a statement, the group expressed regret for causing fear and disruption, stating that their intention was to support Mr. Tayeh and his right to live and work free from racism and hatred. The statement also emphasized the importance of affording this right to all businesses and workers, particularly those from diverse backgrounds.
Authorities have condemned the violence and increased police presence has been discussed. Both the Premier, Jacinta Allan, and the Foreign Minister, Penny Wong, have strongly denounced any form of violence, anti-Semitism, and Islamophobia, declaring that such actions have no place in Australia.
The police are treating the fire as suspicious, but have stated that there is no evidence at this stage to suggest that it was religiously or politically motivated. Additionally, new video footage has emerged, showing a confrontation between pro-Palestine and pro-Israel supporters just hours before the violent protests broke out. The footage captures a shouting match and a tense standoff.
The events that unfolded have caused concern within the community, with individuals on both sides expressing their desire for peace and an end to violence. Investigations into the incidents are ongoing, and authorities remain committed to ensuring the safety and security of all communities involved.