Hundreds of Sydney students are expected to gather for a mammoth pro-Palestine school strike, defying pleas from politicians to stay in class.

NSW Premier Chris Minns and Federal Education Minister Jason Clare have urged students to not attend Friday’s protest organised by High Schoolers for Palestine and University of Sydney group Students for Palestine, which is due to kick off at 1.30pm at Town Hall.

Similar events are also being held in Wollongong and Byron Bay.

“Join students from across Sydney to demand an end to the genocide Israel is committing in Gaza,” the group wrote on social media.

“.These crimes against humanity are being cheered on by the Australian government.

“Bring your friends and classmates and show that business as usual can’t continue while there is a genocide being committed in Gaza!”

The protest is taking place without official approval, meaning children will be confined to footpaths and a heavy police presence is expected to keep the peace.

Labor Party president and former treasurer Wayne Swan told Today that though the protest was not likely to be a “dramatic event”, there were concerns about “fringe groups” getting involved.

Mr Clare told school students the best way to change the world was “go to school” ahead of the second day of student protests.

He said schoolchildren “should be at school in school hours”, and his state and territory counterparts had the same view.

“The important thing for students is that school is on. If you want to change the world, go to school,” he told Channel 7.

“Education is the most powerful cause for good in this world. That is where you learn.

“If you want to protest, do it on the weekend.”

His panelmate, Deputy Opposition Leader Sussan Ley said social harmony was “very important in schools” amid reports a 16-year-old at Thursday’s protest had declared Hamas was “doing a good job”.

“I’m very worried about the activists and their influence on schoolkids via social media,” she said.

“I am not blaming the kids, there is some poisonous stuff circulating … pushed towards our schoolchildren, and it is causing some of the problems that we are seeing.”

The rally in Australia’s biggest city follows similar protests in Melbourne and Adelaide on Thursday, students gathering in public places to show their support for Palestine’s cause.

“We have come out today, people have left school en masse, to say that business as usual can’t continue when Palestinians are being slaughtered in their thousands,” one student protester said on a megaphone.

“We know that a truce or a temporary pause to this atrocity is not enough.

“We’re not fighting so there can be six hours in a day where Palestinians cannot be murdered. We are fighting so that there is never another Palestinian killed ever, ever again.”

More to come

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