War in Israel continues to divide Hawke's Bay people who gathered to share two very different messages, at peaceful rallies in Hastings on Saturday.

The events followed previous pro and anti-Israeli demonstrations, sparked by the arrival of Israeli Ambassador Yosef Livne on a two-day visit to Hawke's Bay, earlier this month.

Pastor Nigel Woodley from the Flaxmere Christian Fellowship organised a gathering in Hastings CBD to support Israel's right to, "defend itself against the jihadist and dictatorial regime of the Hamas Government in Gaza".

During the half hour rally, about 100 people, mostly Christians, waved Israeli flags and placards in a bid to create better community awareness for a peace-loving nation they believe has been, "forced to fight", for the protection of its citizens.


"Our aim was to take a public stand for Israel, we believe they have been falsely blamed for Gaza, we are saying, 'it's not Israel's fault'," he said.

It was the fourth, and most successful protest Mr Woodley had been involved with - having already held two in Wellington and one in Havelock North.

Just streets away, about 80 people took part in a Nationwide Day of Action against Israel's attacks on Gaza, at Civic Square.

Spokeswoman Maxine Boag said their aim was to join with others across New Zealand in offering support and empathy to the people of Gaza whose lives and homes were devastated by war.

They spoke of 2000 people killed in Gaza and 10,000 injured, among them women and children, of an economy and infrastructure in ruins.

"We believe that for lasting peace, the siege must be lifted and the people of Gaza allowed to live in dignity in their own homes; returning to the status quo, how things were before this war. Israel blockading the borders will not bring lasting peace.

"Only allowing the people of Gaza freedom to control their own destiny will solve this conflict in the long term."

Eight separate protests took place throughout New Zealand, arranged by Kia Ora Gaza, a charitable trust which provides food and medical aid to the region.


Ms Boag emphasised the rally was not about confrontation or hate speech, but peace and empathy.

"It was to show the people of Palestine that we support them, to show that communities across the world really care what is happening to them."

Olive branches and wreaths were placed on the cenotaph as a lasting symbol of support.