Nationwide protesters in Israel call for a deal to free remaining hostages and new election


A banner depicting Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is held up at an anti-government rally calling for the return of Israeli hostages being held in the Gaza Strip, Tel Aviv, June 8 2024. (Jack Guez/AFP)

Protesters at rallies in Tel Aviv and across the country on Saturday night called for new elections and the return of the hostages held in captivity in Gaza, hours after the military announced that four hostages were rescued alive from central Gaza’s Nuseirat camp.

While joy over the rescue of Noa Argamani, Shlomo Ziv, Almog Meir Jan and Andrey Kozlov was evident at the protests, so too was anger over the conduct of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his government.

In Tel Aviv, police said that 33 protesters were arrested during demonstrations and that all roads near the protests were opened to traffic around midnight.

Although most demonstrators attended the pre-approved rally and then dispersed, some stayed and marched along Begin and Kaplan roads, “while trying to block a traffic route,” police said in a statement.

“Police forces at the scene dispersed the protesters from the road, while employing riot control methods and arresting disrupters of public order,” the statement said. 

Some people were arrested after several skirmishes broke out between police and protesters as they attempted to march toward Ayalon Highway despite the roadblocks, setting off fireworks as they went.

The protesters were apprehended by police on horseback before a water cannon was brought in to complete the dispersal.

The Times of Israel witnessed several arrests in which police tackled demonstrators to the ground. At the same time, police on horseback were seen pushing protesters off of Democracy Square and onto the sidewalk on Kaplan Street.

Speaking on the main stage of an anti-government demonstration in Tel Aviv, former IDF intelligence chief Amos Malka called the rescue mission “an incredible operational success in a sea of strategic failures,” describing it as having been more complex than Operation Entebbe, which saw the release of over 100 Israeli hostages in Uganda in 1976.

He also criticized the prime minister for rushing to meet and be photographed with released hostages and their families after not having contacted the families of hostages who were killed in captivity, including the families of Nadav Popplewell, Amiram Cooper, Yoram Metzger and Haim Peri, whose deaths were announced by the IDF earlier this week.

“We’re losing everything, crops are being burnt, tourism is collapsing, the small businesses that are still operating are collapsing, and worst of all, our communities are collapsing,” said Reut Forstner Avraham, an activist and resident of Israel’s bombarded north.

Several demonstrators holding signs in praise of the government attempted to break into the crowd but were rebuffed and shoved away.

As the demonstration ended, attendees dispersed to join the nearby protest in support of a hostage deal.

Times of Israel