Pro-Palestinian protesters arrested at Australian port

SYDNEY (Reuters) - Australian police arrested 23 pro-Palestinian protesters for blocking roads near one of the country's largest container ports in Sydney, authorities said on Wednesday, after they protested against a ship owned by Israeli carrier Zim.

About 400 people had gathered near Port Botany on Tuesday evening for a planned unauthorised protest activity, New South Wales state police said. Protesters who did not comply with directions and occupied roads near the port were charged with offences, including disrupting operations of a major facility.

Protesters carried Palestinian flags, chanted "free Palestine" to banging drums, and held signs "Boycott ZIM" and "End the Gaza Blockade", television footage showed. Police forcibly removed some protesters from near the port's entrance.

The Israel-Hamas conflict has triggered protests from both Jewish and Palestinian groups across the world, including in Australia, which has seen rallies in its largest cities.

Anti-Israeli stickers were plastered on the front doors and red paint was sprayed on the walls of an outlet of McDonald's and Starbucks in Melbourne early this week after a protest march on Sunday, media reported.

McDonald's said it was dismayed by the disinformation and inaccurate reports on its position and that it was not funding or supporting any governments involved in the conflict.

Hamas took about 240 hostages, including children and elderly people, during an Oct. 7 assault on Israel that killed 1,200 people, according to Israel's tally. In Israeli attacks, the Hamas-run government says at least 13,300 Palestinians have been killed, including at least 5,600 children.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Tuesday asked his government to back a deal to clear the way for the release of some of the hostages.

(Reporting by Renju Jose in Sydney; Editing by Stephen Coates)