Saturday, May 25, 2024

Israelis take to streets demanding captive swap deal, Netanyahu resignation; several detained

Thousands of people protested in several cities across the occupied Palestinian territories on Saturday, demanding a hostage swap agreement with Palestinian group Hamas and early elections.

Thousands of Israelis protested in Tel Aviv’s Kaplan Square, demanding that the government negotiate a swap deal as soon as possible and hold early elections, Israeli newspaper Yedioth Ahronoth reported.

About 2,000 protesters gathered in front of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s residence in Caesarea to hold a memorial service for the victims of the Oct. 7 attack, the daily said.

The son of one of the victims of the Oct. 7 events blamed Netanyahu for his father’s death at a news conference held during the protest in Caesarea, it added.

Hundreds also demonstrated in Haifa, Rehovot, and Ness Ziona (central), demanding an immediate agreement to release hostages held in Gaza.

Protesters carried banners accusing Netanyahu of neglecting the hostages and demanding his immediate resignation and early elections, the paper reported.

In Tel Aviv, police arrested several demonstrators in the Ayalon area on charges of rioting, after they attempted to block the northern section of Ayalon Street, including the wife of the son of one of the hostages in the Gaza Strip, Israeli Channel 12 reported.

It said police used wastewater to disperse demonstrators who tried to close Ayalon Street.

Israeli army radio added police arrested several demonstrators in the Ayalon area, including at least three from families of hostages.

Channel 13 reported that clashes erupted between police and demonstrators in central Tel Aviv.

In front of Netanyahu’s residence in Jerusalem, hundreds demonstrated to pressure the prime minister into negotiating a hostage swap deal, according to army radio.

Meanwhile, hundreds of people protested on Saturday near the northern Israeli city of Safed, citing the “unstable security situation” caused by Hezbollah attacks.

The Israeli Broadcasting Authority reported on X that hundreds of Israelis demonstrated at the “Hamei’ad” junction near Safed, holding banners accusing the government of “abandoning them”.

Protesters held signs saying, “We have been left alone.”

The demonstrators accused the government of “neglecting the security situation in the north of the country, which is witnessing confrontations with Hezbollah, and exchanges of shelling and targeting.”

Israel has pounded the Gaza Strip following Palestinian resistance group Hamas’ cross-border attack on Oct. 7, 2023, which killed about 1,200 people.

Nearly 34,950 Palestinians, most of them women and children, have since been killed, and nearly 78,600 others injured, according to Palestinian health authorities.

Seven months into the conflict, vast swathes of Gaza lay in ruins amid a crippling blockade of food, clean water and medicine.

Israel is accused of genocide at the International Court of Justice. An interim ruling in January said it is “plausible” that Tel Aviv is committing genocide in Gaza, ordering it to stop such acts and take measures to guarantee that humanitarian assistance is provided to civilians in Gaza.

South Africa on Friday asked the ICJ to order Israel to withdraw from Rafah as part of additional emergency measures over the war.

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