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Internal emails between NSW Police members have revealed senior staffers held concerns of a potential clash between Jewish and Palestinian community groups on the night of Sydney Opera House protests.

In a tranche of documents released to the NSW parliament on Tuesday reveal NSW Police had reservations over the government’s decision to light up the Opera House with the blue and white colours of Israel.

In an email time stamped at 6.10pm on Sunday October 8, a senior staffer in Police Commissioner Karen Webb’s office said the Acting Commissioner David Hudson and herself were “both equally concerned” at how lighting the sails of the Opera House would impact “our streets,” and the “potential further escalation of current tensions in the Jewish Israeli communities”.

The same email also included a request for “an urgent threat assessment” on the impact and risk.

During the same period, police were also investigating a pro-Palestinian protest slated for the evening of Monday October 9, organised by the Palestine Action Group.

Originally set for Town Hall, by 1pm on Monday, police became aware the protest could move to the Opera House to coincide with the tribute.

Internal communication also revealed police had begun receiving messages from both Jewish and Palestinian community members who were distressed at the potential conflict that could arise from lighting the Opera House sails.

Emails from the Engagement & Hate Crime Unit showed one person feared the act could “escalate community tensions”.

The same department had also been informed by a member of Sydney’s Palestinian community who anticipated that “many will attend tonight’s protest with the Hamas flag,” which could result in them getting arrested or fined.

The potential of a “counter protest by members of the Jewish community with numbers unknown” was also raised by NSW Police staff, however this did not eventuate.

At 10.50pm on the night of the protest, a police strategy briefing sent by NSW Police Deputy Commissioner Malcolm Lanyon backed the actions taken by police.

Deputy Commissioner Lanyon said interventions to stop the protests would “not likely have improved our position or prevented the opportunity of the group to commit offences, cause disruption or create public order issues.

Commissioner Lanyon said advice had been provided to members of the Jewish community by Jewish-based Community Security Group (CGS) to avoid the Opera House area to “reduce the risk of conflict”. He added that he had regular contact with the Jewish Board of Secretaries president David Orsipp, who was “very positive” towards police activity.

While NSW Premier Chris Minns would go on to issue an apology to the Jewish community for not being able to provide a “space for (the Jewish) community to come together to commemorate,” he has backed his government’s decision to light the Opera House.

On Tuesday during budget estimates, Deputy Premier Prue Car told the committee she was not briefed on the escalating tensions on the day before the protests.

In Mr Minns’ absence, Ms Carr was Acting Premier on the Monday, however it’s understood the Premier was available at all times and therefore she was not required to exercise her functions.

Read related topics:Sydney

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By Rahul

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