Pro—Palestinian protestors set fire to flags of Israel and the United States, and hurled shoes at the US consulate in Auckland on Saturday to protest against the blockade of Gaza.

The throwing of shoes has become a symbol of opposition to US and Israeli policy in the Middle East, following the example of an Iraqi journalist who threw one at then—president George W Bush during a press conference in December 2008.

Maoris’ traditional insult

“The sole of the shoe is dirty and holding it up that to a person or a place is an insult,” John Minto, protest leader of the Global Peace and Justice organisation, told reporters. He said it was the Middle East equivalent of the biggest traditional insult of New Zealand’s indigenous Maoris — baring the buttocks.

Up to 300 protestors marched through Auckland urging the government to expel Israel’s ambassador in protest at last week’s action by Israeli forces against a peace flotilla en route to Gaza.

Similar demonstrations were reported in Wellington, Christchurch and Dunedin.

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