Tens of thousands of protesters in Israel call for Netanyahu to resign
04/09/2024 // Cassie B. // Views

As the war in Gaza continues in its sixth month and more than 100 hostages remain unaccounted for, tens of thousands of fed-up Israelis are taking to the streets to express their disgust with their current leadership.

Around 100,000 Israelis convened at Democracy Square in Tel Aviv chanting “Elections now,” waving Israeli flags and calling for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to resign immediately. Protests and rallies were also held in other Israeli cities. Clashes broke out between police and protesters, with police using horses and water cannons to control the crowds and dozens of people being arrested. Protesters also started several fires, but they were quickly extinguished by police.

The protesters in Tel Aviv were joined by the families of hostages who are still being held in Gaza, who called on Netanyahu to make a deal with Hamas to free their loved ones.

Protesters have also been convening regularly outside the private residences of Netanyahu in Jerusalem and the seaside community of Caesarea, upsetting neighbors and bringing chaos to the residential areas.

One Caesarea resident told the Times of Israel: “Their shouts in our ears; blocking the road on our only free day, putting us under curfew, essentially — and for what? Netanyahu isn’t even here.”

Another local, Hanna Bendor, told the outlet: “I also find it inconvenient. But I find it more inconvenient to live in a country run by a crook and a failure who, together with a band of radicals and opportunists, is driving us over a cliff.”

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Netanyahu pushes back against protesters in video message

In a video message, Netanyahu pushed back against claims that he is not doing everything he can to get the hostages back.

“I reiterate: I am committed to returning all of our hostages, women and men, civilians and soldiers, the living and the victims. I will not leave even one behind,” he insisted.

He also took aim at those who are calling for elections to be held right now, saying that such a move during war “will paralyze the negotiations for the release of our hostages and in the end will lead to ending the war before achieving its goals, and the first to commend this will be Hamas, and that says it all.”

During the October 7 massacre in Israel, Hamas took 235 people hostage. At the end of March, it is believed that there were 130 hostages still alive in Gaza, while 34 were believed to be dead. Among the living hostages are 111 men, 19 women, 2 children under the age of 5, and 11 foreign people.

The protests come as negotiations for a ceasefire and discussions about releasing hostages are getting underway in Cairo, with the U.S., Egypt and Qatar mediating the proceedings. A proposal put forth by CIA Director Bill Burns would see Israel releasing a significant number of Palestinian prisoners in exchange for 40 Israeli hostages in the first part of a three-part ceasefire deal. The U.S. is also pushing for Israel to allow northern Gaza residents to return to their homes without restrictions, something that Hamas has been demanding but Israel has been rejecting. Hamas leadership is believed to be reviewing the proposal and an answer is expected in a few days.

In the last six months of fighting, more than 33,000 Palestinians have been killed and more than 75,000 have been wounded in Gaza, according to the Hamas-run Gaza Health Ministry. Much of Gaza, particularly in the north, is also dealing with starvation and famine.

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