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Australian leader tells activists to 'turn the heat down' after US Consulate vandalized over Gaza

SYDNEY — (AP) — Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese urged activists on both sides of the Israel-Palestinian debate to "turn the heat down" after the U.S. Consulate in Sydney was vandalized on Monday.

Surveillance video showed a person wearing a dark hoodie using a small sledgehammer to smash nine holes in the reinforced glass windows of the building in North Sydney after 3 a.m., a police statement said.

Two inverted red triangles, seen by some as a symbol of Palestinian resistance but by others as supporting the militant group Hamas, were also painted on the front of the building.

Albanese urged people to have “respectful political debate and discourse.”

“People are traumatized by what is going on in the Middle East, particularly those with relatives in either Israel or in the Palestinian Occupied Territories,” Albanese told reporters.

“And I just say, again, reiterate my call to turn the heat down and measures such as painting the U.S. consulate do nothing to advance the cause of those who have committed what is, of course, a crime to damage property,” Albanese added.

The consulate was closed on Monday because of a public holiday in New South Wales state but would reopen on Tuesday, a consulate statement said.

New South Wales Premier Chris Minns said an overwhelming majority of Australians did not approve of such vandalism.

“We can make our point in this country without resorting to violence or malicious behavior,” Minns said.

The consulate was sprayed with graffiti in April, including the words “Freee (sic) Gaza." The U.S. Consulate in Melbourne was vandalized by pro-Palestinian activists on May 31.

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