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Thousands of Israelis turn out for anti-government protest

by Selinda Phenyo
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Weekly protests against the Israeli leader's handling of the war against Hamas militants have gathered pace (Menahem Kahana)

Israel

Thousands of Israelis protested against Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government on Monday over the Gaza war and failure to negotiate the release of scores of hostages still held in the Palestinian territory.

Protests against Netanyahu’s handling of the war against Hamas militants have gathered pace, with tens of thousands taking to the streets of Israel’s biggest city, Tel Aviv, every weekend.

But protesters travelled to Jerusalem to rally outside the Israeli parliament and Netanyahu’s residence on Monday, clashing with police and urging new elections as part of what has been dubbed a week of disturbance by activists.

“Every action that he does is in the direction of the destruction of Israel. He was responsible for what happened on October 7,” said retired civil engineer Moshe Sandarovich, 73.

“Now he is destroying everything. Even if there is war now, every day that the war goes on with him, is a worse day.”

Nine people were arrested, some of them in connection with violence that left police officers “slightly injured”, Israeli police said in a statement overnight.

Armed with drums, horns and placards calling for fresh elections, thousands of protesters old and young called for a ceasefire to bring the remaining Gaza hostages home.

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After speeches by activists addressing the crowd, protesters shouted “All of them! Now!” to call for a full hostage return, before holding a sombre moment of silence for those left in the Hamas-controlled territory.

Hamas militants seized 251 hostages on October 7, of whom Israel believes 116 remain in Gaza, including 41 who the army says are dead.

The attack resulted in the deaths of 1,194 people in Israel, mostly civilians, according to an AFP tally based on official Israeli figures.

Israel’s retaliatory bombardments and ground offensive on Gaza have killed 37,347 people, also mostly civilians, according to the territory’s health ministry.

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Others at the Jerusalem protest wore shirts bearing slogans including “stop the war” and “we are all created equal”.

Some in Jerusalem said it was time to end the Gaza war and hoped that equality would be prioritised by the country’s politicians.

“After 75 years of this country existing and eight months of war, the divide, it’s not equal. It must be changed,” said Kfir Roffe, a 50-year-old protester.

“We need to be equal, the Muslim, the Christian, all the people in Israel must come together.”

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AFP


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