News100,000 Israelis Protest Six Months into Hamas War, Demand Change

100,000 Israelis Protest Six Months into Hamas War, Demand Change

Anti-government protests in Israel in the half year of war with Hamas
Anti-government protests in Israel in the half year of war with Hamas
Images source: © EPA, PAP | ABIR SULTAN

12:56 PM EDT, April 7, 2024

On Saturday, in Tel Aviv, approximately 100,000 people gathered six months after the war with Hamas began, according to organizer estimates. Anti-government demonstrations spread across the nation, with significant turnouts in Haifa, Caesarea, Herzliya, Kfar Saba, Ra'anana, and Pardes Hanna-Karkur, as reported by the Times of Israel.

In Tel Aviv, a protester voiced that she could never forgive the government's errors, which culminated in the harrowing attack on October 7, 2023.

Six months of conflict: Israel at war with Hamas

Later, groups calling for immediate elections merged with demonstrators advocating for the release of hostages. Protests in Jerusalem took place outside Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s official residence, where people insisted on negotiating the release of hostages instead of resorting to combat.

In Caesarea, following an anti-government parade, participants clashed with police barriers set up around the Prime Minister’s home, resulting in at least one arrest.

In Haifa, General Ami Ayalon, former leader of Shin Bet, Israel’s domestic intelligence agency, and ex-commander of the Israeli Navy, proposed starting peace negotiations with the Palestinians, facilitated by Saudi Arabia.

A "Catastrophic error"

Ayalon expressed that opting for peace talks does not equate to surrender but is crucial for maintaining the essence of a Jewish, democratic Israel. He critically remarked that Netanyahu failed to plan post-Hamas war strategies. He elaborated that the conflict would evolve into an endless and fruitless struggle without a diplomatic goal.

The demonstration in Tel Aviv commenced with a minute of silence, honoring the soldiers who fell during the conflict, as noted by the Times of Israel.

Anat Gilor, who established Kibbutz Holit in the Negev desert—subsequently attacked by terrorists on October 7, shared her ordeal: the loss of security and trust and the violation of her expectations without any form of acknowledgment or apology from the government. She affirmed her determination not to forgive the government for the rest of her life.

Ongoing protests across Israel

Israel has witnessed a series of anti-government protests over the past few weeks. Beni Gantz, a former chief of staff turned opposition politician and now a member of Israel’s war cabinet suggested that parliamentary elections should be conducted in September. He reasoned that an earlier vote could help Israel rebuild international rapport.

The following day, approximately 100,000 individuals assembled in Jerusalem to oppose Netanyahu. Assembled in front of the parliament, they reiterated their calls for earlier elections, the liberation of hostages by Hamas, and the inclusion of ultra-Orthodox religious students in the mandatory military service.

Under normal circumstances, parliamentary elections would be scheduled to occur in two years.

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