Israel rocked by largest protests since war began as Netanyahu ...

16 days ago

Jerusalem CNN  — 

Thousands of people took to the streets of Tel Aviv and Jerusalem over the weekend in the largest protests Israel has seen since the start of the war against Hamas, a significant challenge to the increasingly embattled leadership of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

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Photo CNN

Demonstrators are angry at Netanyahu and his government for not having secured the release of all the hostages taken captive during the October 7 terror attack. While 105 people were released during a temporary truce last year, another 130 that were kidnapped are either dead or still being held by Hamas and other militant groups.

Banners at the protests called on the Prime Minister to resign and for Israel to hold new elections.

“You’ve failed,” one poster read. “Impeachment now,” read another.

Netanyahu has said that the goals of the current war against Hamas are to bring back the hostages, destroy Hamas and remake Gaza so that no militant group can ever carry out the type of attack that Israel suffered last year, in which about 1,200 people were killed. But the families of the hostages and demonstrators that came out over the weekend believe the Israeli government should be more focused on hostage retrieval than any military or security objectives.

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Aviva Siegel, one of 17 hostages released by Hamas on the third night of the temporary truce in November, called on Israeli authorities to “take responsibility” and put more effort into releasing her husband, who remains in Gaza, and other hostages held by Hamas and other militant groups in the strip.

“We are dying inside here,” Siegel, 62, said at a Saturday rally in Tel Aviv.

Speaking to crowds in Jerusalem on Sunday, former Israeli prime minister and current opposition leader Yair Lapid said the government was ignoring the existence of the families of hostages.

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“They stood outside the Kirya (the Israel Defense Forces headquarters in Tel Aviv), screamed their souls out, and nobody heard. They waved signs and no one saw,” Lapid said.

Sunday’s demonstration outside the Knesset, Israel’s parliament, in Jerusalem was dispersed by force, but protesters appear to be readying themselves for more protests. Dozens of people were camped at tents outside the Knesset on Monday, and some vowed to stay there until Wednesday, when lawmakers head home for spring recess.

Israeli protests against Netanyahu - Figure 4
Photo CNN
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