Tense scenes broke out on the streets of Melbourne on Friday afternoon after a ‘suspicious blaze’ gutted a burger restaurant owned by a pro-Palestine supporter.
Footage filmed outside the Falafel Omisi restaurant in Caulfield, in Melbourne’s south east, on Friday afternoon shows a group of supposedly pro-Palestine supporters arguing with several people.
Cries of ‘let’s not fight’ and ‘they started it’ can be heard as the two groups clash. One man appears to launch a water bottle at another man as police intervene.
Falafel Omisi is next door to the Burgertory restaurant which burned down overnight in a fire police are treating as ‘suspicious’.
Victoria Police detained several people after the scuffle to ‘keep the peace’.
Burgertory’s Caulfield branch in Melbourne’s south east burned down around 4am on Friday (pictured)
‘Police responded to reports of people clashing in Caulfield on 10 November,’ a Victoria Police spokeswoman told Daily Mail Australia.
‘It’s believed a verbal altercation took place between around 15 people on Glen Huntly Road just after 2.30pm.
‘A number of people were detained briefly in an effort to keep the peace. One female was arrested briefly for failing to provide identification.
‘No one was injured during the incident.
‘Police will maintain a presence in the area for community safety and to prevent any breaches of the peace.’
A man is led away by police following the tense scenes on the streets of Melbourne on Friday afternoon. Several people were arrested to ‘keep the peace’
Police say they are treating the blaze as ‘suspicious’
Ten fire crews battled to extinguish the blaze at the Burgertory restaurant, which appears to have gutted the establishment and shattered its glass windows, for around half an hour.
Hash Tayeh, who transformed his business into Australia’s largest independently-owned burger chain after founding it in 2018, had sparked controversy for leading cries of ‘From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free’ at a Melbourne rally a fortnight ago.
Many interpret the chant as a call for the destruction of Israel.
Mr Tayeh vehemently denies he is anti-Semitic and has since asserted he has the deepest sympathy for civilian victims in both Palestine and Israel.
A spokesperson for Victoria Police told Daily Mail Australia detectives are now investigating the inferno.
‘Emergency services were called to the Glenhuntly Road blaze just after 4.15am,’ the spokesperson said.
Hash Tayeh (pictured with his wife), 32 – who founded Burgertory in 2018 which has since become Australia’s biggest independently-owned burger chain – was filmed at a pro-Palestine protest in Melbourne a fortnight ago
‘There was no one inside at the time. The exact cause of the fire is being investigated but is being treated as suspicious at this stage.’
‘Anyone who witnessed the incident, has CCTV, dashcam footage or any other information that could assist police is urged to contact Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000.’
Mr Tayeh labelled the fire an ‘arson attack’ and said it would not ‘waver my calling for peace and will not silence me’.
‘We are working closely with authorities to investigate this alarming incident, and we are determined to assist in every possible way,’ he said.
‘As an Australian with Palestinian heritage and the CEO of Burgertory, and as someone who cherishes life in our multicultural Australian society, I am deeply troubled by the spread of rumours suggesting that we harbor anti-Semitic sentiments.
‘I cannot stress enough that this could not be further from the truth. My participation in Pro-Palestinian rallies was driven by a desire for peace and a ceasefire, not violence or division. I have lost 38 relatives in Palestine and I want the violence to stop.’
He added: ‘I want to unequivocally state that we stand against violence in all its forms.
‘Burgertory has always been a place that celebrates diversity and promotes unity.’
The suburb of Caulfield is home to around 20,000 Jewish Australians. Daily Mail Australia is in no way suggesting the alleged arson was committed by a member of the Jewish population.
Police have called for any witnesses or anyone with CCTV or dashcam footage to come forward as detectives investigate the ‘suspicious’ blaze
Mr Tayeh, 32, was filmed at a pro-Palestine protest in Melbourne on 29 October holding a loudspeaker and leading chants of ‘From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free’.
Some interpret the rallying cry as anti-Semitic, as it effectively calls for the abolishment of Israel by extending the Palestinian state from the Jordan River to the Mediterranean sea.
‘It is an anti-Semitic charge denying the Jewish right to self-determination, including through the removal of Jews from their ancestral homeland,’ according to the Anti-Defamation League.
It has been also been used by terror organisation Hamas as a rallying cry to drive the Jews from the state of Israel.
Mr Tayeh (pictured) vehemently denies that he holds anti-Semitic views and has repeatedly called for ‘peace and unity, an end to killing and suffering on both sides’
Mr Tayeh, who also led chants of ‘Shame, shame USA, how many kids did you kill today’, originally shared the footage on his Instagram page before deleting it after being deluged with criticism.
The day after the protest the Jordan-born entrepreneur wrote ‘an open letter to my Jewish friends’ following calls from many in the Jewish community to boycott his restaurants.
He vehemently rejected the allegation he held anti-Semitic views and claimed he was a ‘voice for peace’.
‘At no stage have I ever called for harm to any individual, and I want to emphasise that I have deep and meaningful friendships with members of the Jewish community.’
Burgertory has 18 stores in Melbourne, including one in the suburb of Caulfield which is home to 20,000 Jews.
The most recent post on Burgertory’s Instagram page is a sit-down interview with Mr Tayeh where he addresses the ‘hate, the attacks and the criticism’ he has been receiving.
‘Unity is the spark that ignites the flame of progress, turning a single voice into a powerful chorus,’ the caption reads.
Source: | This article originally belongs to Dailymail.co.uk