Angry Israelis violently demand Netanyahu's resignation

Angry Israelis violently demand Netanyahu's resignation

Tens of thousands of people across Israel joined hostage families this weekend to protest against the government and call for Benjamin Netanyahu's resignation as Israel's prime minister faces one of the gravest threats to his coalition.

According to The Guardian, protesters in Tel Aviv, Jerusalem, Haifa, Be'er Sheva, Caesarea and other cities on Saturday, as well as at another demonstration outside the Knesset building in Jerusalem on Sunday, demanded the release of those who, after almost six months, all still in captivity in Gaza, and called Netanyahu “an obstacle to an agreement,” vowing not to back down until he leaves power.

Netanyahu is entering the most dangerous week for his coalition since the war began as a deadline set by Israel's top court to overturn the exemption from military service for ultra-Orthodox men expires on Monday. The issue divides the coalition between right-wing religious and secular parties who want conscription to be distributed more evenly among Israeli Jews.

At a news conference on Sunday evening, Netanyahu said Israel would continue its offensive on Rafah, where half of Gaza's population is estimated to be sheltering, and that a combination of military pressure and flexibility in negotiations would lead to the release of the hostages.

The nationwide protests also coincided with reports from the Egyptian Al-Kahera TV channel, known for its ties to the country's intelligence services, that peace talks between Israel and Hamas were to resume in Cairo.

Hamas will not attend the talks in Cairo, a spokesman for the group told Reuters on Sunday, as it awaits an answer from the mediators on whether there is a new Israeli proposal.

An Israeli airstrike on Sunday killed two Palestinians and wounded 15 others, including journalists working nearby, on a tent camp in the courtyard of an overcrowded hospital in central Gaza.

Gaza's health ministry said on Sunday that at least 32,782 Palestinians had been killed since the war began, including 77 whose bodies were taken to hospitals in the past 24 hours.

In another sign of rising tensions in Israel, emergency services said a member of the country's Arab minority stabbed three soldiers at a bus stop in the southern city of Beersheba on Sunday before one of them shot him dead. Hours later, a knife-wielding Palestinian was shot dead after wounding three people at a shopping center in nearby Gan Yavne, Israeli media reported.

The war began in October when Hamas killed 1,200 people, mostly civilians, in an attack in southern Israel. The militant Islamist organization also kidnapped about 250 people. Israel believes about 130 of them remain in Gaza, including 34 believed dead.

Thousands of people gathered in front of the Knesset building in Jerusalem on Sunday to protest the government's actions and call for Netanyahu's resignation as prime minister. Yaakov Godot, whose son Tom was killed by Hamas on October 7, said: “I will camp here in front of the Knesset until the prime minister resigns.”

Naama Lazimi, a Knesset member from the center-left Labor Party who attended the demonstration, said people came out to protest because they realized the government was failing.

“The people of Israel were in deep sorrow and pain after October 7, that's why it took so long, but when they realized that there was no other way, this government was not functioning and was damaging us economically, diplomatically, our security and our values, so why did people take to the streets,” she said. – You must trust the people of Israel. This government will go, but the people of Israel are sane, good people, and we will win.”

Families of the hostages called on ministers, including Netanyahu's political rival and War Cabinet Minister Benny Gantz, to join with other members of parliament to remove Netanyahu from power, accusing the prime minister of deliberately sabotaging efforts to free their relatives.

“If the families knew how small the gap that Netanyahu refuses to bridge in negotiations with Hamas, they would explode,” said Amos Malka, former head of the Israel Defense Forces' military intelligence agency, who was one of the speakers at the Tel Aviv rally in Saturday.

Einav Zangauker, the mother of Matan Zangauker, who is still being held in Gaza, said Netanyahu's handling of the hostage situation was “incomprehensible and criminal.”

“Prime Minister Netanyahu, after you abandoned our families on October 7, and after 176 days in which you did not make a deal for their return, and because you constantly torpedoed the deal, we realized that you are an obstacle to the deal. You are an obstacle. You are the one who stands between us and our loved ones coming home,” she said. “If we do not immediately take action to remove you from control, we will not see our loved ones return home alive and quickly, and we will not see our dead returned to Israel for burial.” Therefore, today we are forced to begin a new stage of our struggle.”

Police used water cannon to disperse protesters at Saturday's demonstrations and arrested 16 people.

In a separate protest, dozens of demonstrators affiliated with the Brothers in Arms movement, formed from reservists, gathered in Jerusalem's ultra-Orthodox neighborhood of Mea Shearim on Sunday, demanding the conscription of ultra-Orthodox men, also known as haredim, into the Israel Defense Forces.

“I believe, I believe, I believe in joining the army,” the protesters chanted. Counter-protests by ultra-Orthodox men are expected this week.

In addition to the deadline for ending the benefit that Netanyahu's government was trying to extend, Israel's Supreme Court also ruled on Monday to end government subsidies for many ultra-Orthodox men who study Torah in religious schools instead of serving in the army, The Guardian writes.

The decision came after a series of delays by the government in submitting a proposal to the court aimed at expanding the practice of conscripting ultra-Orthodox men, who have historically been exempt from this duty.

As Israel's military continues to fight a nearly six-month war in Gaza that has killed 500 soldiers, government and opposition lawmakers have taken a position that places the burden of increased military service on the Haredi community rather than imposing additional responsibilities on those is already in Gaza. Service. If the ultra-Orthodox parties leave the government, the country will be forced to hold new elections, and Netanyahu will lose significantly in the opinion polls.

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