Selfie stick sparks synagogue search

EMERGENCY SERVICES
A local community was on high alert on Saturday morning, following reports a firearm was spotted near prominent synagogues in Sydney’s east. Picture: NCA NewsWire/ Gaye Gerard

Police launched an extensive search in Sydney’s east following reports of suspicious activity around prominent synagogues in the area, with one source from the site reporting a selfie stick may have been confused with a gun.

NSW Police confirmed officers from the Eastern Suburbs Police Area Command were sent to New South Head Road, Vaucluse, just after midday on Saturday.

One witness said a sighting of a possible selfiestick may have been confused with a gun.

It’s understood initial investigations suggest there were no firearm at the scene, however inquiries are ongoing.

It’s believed officers were made aware of the incident following reports on social media.

A statement from police said nothing was located following an “extensive and thorough search of the area”.

“There is no threat to the public,” a spokesperson said.

EMERGENCY SERVICES
Police confirmed an extensive search was taken around Vaucluse following reports of suspicious activity, however nothing was located. Picture: NCA NewsWire / Gaye Gerard

The threat alert comes after a week of heightened tensions for Australia’s Jewish community following a horrific attack is Israel from Islamic militant group Hamas.

A pro-Palestinian protest on Monday night further inflamed concerns after some attendees were seen storming the Sydney Opera House forecourt light flares, initiating anti-Semitic chants and burning the Israeli flag.

NSW Police confirmed extra security has been deployed at Jewish synagogues, schools, hospitals and retirement villages.

On Wednesday, Acting NSW Police Commissioner David Hudson said conversation between police and Jewish community groups were ongoing.

“I know there’s a lot of angst within the Jewish community. I understand that,” he said.

“We don’t have any information or direct threats at this stage, and a lot of our visibility and presence is about preventing that.”

POLICE PROTEST PRESSER
Acting NSW Police Commissioner David Hudson said extra security had been deployed around synagogues, Jewish schools, hospitals and retirement villages. Picture: NCA NewsWire / Damian Shaw

NSW Premier Chris Minns has also expressed concern at a second unauthorised rally slated for Sunday afternoon in Sydney’s Hyde Park.

While he said NSW residents had a right to protest, he said police would be on alert for acts of “racial vilification, incitement to violence, actual violence or racism”.

“I’m hoping it’s done peacefully and I’m hoping that the organisers and the participants at that assembly prove me wrong and we can get through the weekend in a peaceful way,” he said.

“That would be ruinous for Sydney’s sense of cohesion, our multicultural, multi-faith community, we couldn’t have those scenes again and police have got every right to protect and ensure that those scenes aren’t repeated over the weekend.”