Monday 24 June 2024 - 01:28

Israelis Hold Largest Anti-Netanyahu Protest Since Start of Gaza War

Story Code : 1143430
Israelis Hold Largest Anti-Netanyahu Protest Since Start of Gaza War
Large protests have occurred on a weekly basis over Netanyahu’s handling of the nearly nine-month-old war in the besieged enclave which has so far claimed the lives of 37,500, mainly children and women.

Many demonstrators held signs reading “Crime Minister” and “Stop the War” as people poured into the biggest Israeli city’s main thoroughfare.

“I am here because I am afraid of the future of my grandchild. There will be no future for them if we don’t go out and get rid of the horrible government,” 66 year old contractor Shai Erel told AFP, adding, “All of the rats in the Knesset … I wouldn’t let any one of them be a guard of a kindergarten.”

Antigovernment protest organisation Hofshi Israel estimated more than 150,000 people attended the rally, calling it the biggest since Israel’s war on Gaza.

Some demonstrators lay on the ground covered in red paint in the city’s Democracy Square to protest what they say is the death of democracy under Netanyahu.

In an address to the crowd, a former head of Israel’s domestic Shin Bet security agency, Yuval Diskin, condemned Netanyahu as Israel’s “worst prime minister”.

Many are frustrated with Israel's right-wing coalition, which includes Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir and other far-right ultranationalists, accusing it of prolonging the war in Gaza and putting Israel’s security and captives at risk.

Yoram, a 50-year-old tour guide who declined to give his last name, stated he was attending every weekly protest as Israel needed elections “yesterday” because of Netanyahu.

“I really hope the government collapses. If we go to the original date of elections in 2026, it is not going to be a democratic election,” Yoram continued.

A separate Tel Aviv rally on Saturday night drew thousands of relatives and supporters of the captives.

The Wall Street Journal reported on Thursday, citing US officials, the number of captives still alive and being held by Hamas in the blockaded territory could be as low as 50.

The armed wing of the Palestinian group captured 250 people in the October 7 attack on the occupied territories, in which almost 1,200 people were killed, triggering a bloody nine-month offensive by the Zionist regime.

The Israeli Army freed four captives earlier this month, bringing the total number of those released or rescued to 116. The bodies of 19 hostages have been returned to Tel Aviv.

Another 116 people were being held in Gaza, but many of those are now believed to be dead, the WSJ reported. The publication has cited mediators in the hostage negotiations and a US official familiar with the latest intelligence as saying the number of those hostages still living could be as low as 50.