Thousands of Israelis pour into streets, demanding captive swap agreement with Palestinians

Thousands of Israelis have protested in several cities across the occupied territories, demanding a hostage swap deal with Palestinian factions in the Gaza Strip and early parliamentary elections, according to Israeli media.

Thousands in Kaplan Square in central Tel Aviv demanded a hostage deal and that the government should not miss the opportunity again, said the state-run broadcasting authority.

Protesters chanted: “Deal Now” and raised banners with the slogan.

Around 2,000 protested in Caesarea in northern Israel, demanding a hostage deal and early elections, it added.

The Yedioth Ahronoth newspaper reported that thousands demonstrated in several locations, including the Karqur intersection, Bat Hefer and Rehovot.

Demonstrators emphasized the need for a hostage deal “as soon as possible” and to not “miss the opportunity this time”, it said.

The protesters also called for early parliamentary elections.

Yedioth Ahronoth daily, citing unnamed informed sources, reported that a negotiating team “will leave next Monday to continue negotiations on the deal”.

The head of Mossad, David Barnea, traveled to Doha on Friday for meetings with Qatari Prime Minister Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani regarding the hostage deal and cease-fire in Gaza.​​​​​​​

Upon his return to Tel Aviv, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office announced that a negotiating team will depart for Qatar next week to continue discussions on the deal.

Israel estimates around 120 Israelis are held by the Palestinian resistance group, Hamas, in Gaza.

Israel, flouting a UN Security Council resolution demanding an immediate cease-fire, has faced international condemnation amid its continued brutal offensive on Gaza since an Oct. 7 attack by Hamas.

More than 38,000 Palestinians have since been killed, mostly women and children, and over 87,700 others injured, according to local health authorities.

Nearly nine months into the Israeli war, vast tracts of Gaza lie in ruins amid a crippling blockade of food, clean water and medicine.

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