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HomeLatest NewsThousands rally in Israel, demanding new elections and return of hostages

Thousands rally in Israel, demanding new elections and return of hostages



NEW DELHI: A massive protest took place in Tel Aviv on Saturday where tens of thousands of demonstrators waved Israeli flags and chanted slogans against Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu‘s government. The protesters demanded new elections and the return of hostages held in Gaza. The rally was in response to Netanyahu’s handling of the nearly nine-month-old war in Gaza, which was initiated by Hamas’s attack on southern Israel on October 7.
The protesters carried signs with messages such as “crime minister” and “stop the war” as they gathered on the main thoroughfare of Israel’s largest city.
Shai Erel, a 66-year-old contractor, expressed his concern for his grandchild’s future, stating, “There will be no future for them if we don’t go out and get rid of the horrible government.” He also criticised the members of the Knesset, saying, “All of the rats in the Knesset… I wouldn’t let any one of them be a guard of a kindergarten.”
“For many weeks, I rejected requests to join the protests. Something deep inside me told me that it wasn’t time yet, that maybe it wasn’t right to change governments during a war, and that unity was the most important thing,” The Times of Israel quoted Former Shin Bet chief, Yuval Diskin as saying.
“But I find myself amazed, every day, by the government’s uselessness, the failed management of the war, the lie of ‘total victory,’ the total evasion of responsibility, the destruction of our strategic relations with the United States, and perhaps most of all, missing every opportunity to return our kidnapped brothers and sisters, who continue to languish in Hamas captivity in Gaza,” he added.
Diskin also called Netanyahu “the worst and most failed prime minister in the history of the state.”
According to Hofshi Israel, an anti-government protest organization, more than 150,000 people attended the rally, making it the largest since the beginning of the Gaza war. Some protesters lay on the ground covered in red paint in Democracy Square to symbolize the death of the country’s democracy under Netanyahu’s leadership. Yuval Diskin, a former head of Israel’s domestic Shin Bet security agency, addressed the crowd and condemned Netanyahu as Israel’s “worst prime minister.”
Many protesters are frustrated with the country’s right-wing coalition, which includes Security Minister Itamar Ben Gvir and other far-right ultra-nationalists. They accuse the government of prolonging the war in Gaza and putting the country’s security and hostages at risk. Yoram, a 50-year-old tour guide who attended every weekly protest, expressed his hope for the government’s collapse and the need for immediate elections, stating, “If we go to the original date of elections in 2026, it is not going to be a democratic election.”
The war in Gaza has had a devastating impact on both sides. Hamas militants seized 251 hostages on October 7, of whom Israel believes 116 remain in Gaza, including 41 who the army says are dead. A separate rally in Tel Aviv on Saturday night drew thousands of relatives and supporters of the hostages.
According to an AFP tally based on Israeli official figures, the attack on Israel resulted in the deaths of 1,194 people, mostly civilians. In response, Israel’s offensive in Gaza has killed at least 37,551 people, also mostly civilians, according to the health ministry in the Hamas-ruled territory.
(With inputs from agencies)





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