israel
© ABIR SULTAN/ShutterstockTens of thousands took to the streets to call for an election
Israel saw the biggest protests against its government since the outbreak of the Gaza war as hostage families joined forces with pro-democracy demonstrators across the country.

The families of the more than 130 hostages that are still held in Gaza have, until now, separated themselves from the anti-government protests that peaked last year against the Benjamin Netanyahu-led Right-wing coalition.

But six months into the war and with no sign of a hostage deal, the two groups came together on Saturday night as tens of thousands took to the streets to call for an election.


Comment: Note: there's no sign of a deal because Israel's pathocrats are using them to evoke sympathy in their supporters across the planet, and they're using the hostages as cover for their genocidal activities.

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Nadav Salzberger, from the "Change Generation" movement, which is leading the Tel Aviv protests, told The Telegraph: "What we saw yesterday was an eruption of underground currents that have reached the boiling point, hundreds of thousands of refugees across Israel, the families of the 134 hostages whose dream to see their loved ones draws further away, and Israelis fed up with the most incompetent government in the country's history."

Mr Salzberger added: "People understand that without public pressure, the election will not be put forward, and a hostage deal is less likely to take place."

There are still around 200,000 Israelis displaced from both the north and the south of Israel in the wake of the Hamas invasion of Oct 7, in which 1,200, mostly civilians, were murdered and a further 250 or more taken hostage to Gaza.


Israel's retaliatory attacks have since seen over 30,000 Gazans killed on the Strip, according to the Hamas-controlled health ministry.


Comment: Israel hasn't 'seen' them dead, Israel has slaughtered them; mostly women and children, too.

Further, the data which is affirmed as reliable by organisations from the UN to Amnesty International.


Protest numbers had been a fraction of what they were last year amid a war in which hundreds of Israeli soldiers have been killed.

But Israelis are being pushed to the edge, said Dana Oren-Yanay, the deputy mayor of Herzliya, a suburb north of Tel Aviv.

There, they saw four times the usual war-time numbers of around 2,000. That was still smaller than the pre-war number of around 20,000, but she said it shows "the way the wind is blowing".

She said: "It was much easier last year to go out and protest when it was about democracy and it was a clear cut fight, but now people feel uncomfortable and feel it's inappropriate to demonstrate in times of war, but yesterday was the 176th day of the war, of the mass kidnapping of Israelis and it seems that [Mr] Netanyahu is going nowhere, stalling time, and refusing deals."

On Sunday another huge protest broke out near the Knesset in Jerusalem, with thousands calling for new elections.

It came during a speech by Mr Netanyahu vowing to continue the war effort and claiming new elections will be a victory for Hamas.

He also again defied US calls not to invade the densely populated city of Rafah on the southern border, which US President Biden has called a "red line".

"I have approved the IDF operational plan for Rafah," said Netanyahu.

Hamas is demanding the release of hundreds of prisoners held in Israeli jails in return for 40 hostages, in addition to a permanent ceasefire and the evacuation of troops from Gaza - a deal that the Netanyahu government refuses to accept as it continues its mission to eliminate the terror group and rescue all remaining hostages.


Comment: The hostages have been shown to have been treated exceptionally well. Meanwhile Israel's Palestinian prisoners - the vast majority of whom have not been tried: US State dept accuses Israel of 'systematically' sexually abusing Palestinian women, cites damning UN report


The parliament has enraged the population by preparing to go on a recess at the end of this week while there are still more than 130 captives in Gaza.

'Seems heartless'

Ms Oren-Yanay said: "The Knesset [parliament] is going on a recess at the end of this week, and people are shocked by the fact that all the Knesset wants to do is go on a break while people are raped, tortured and killed in the Gaza Strip.


Comment: Palestinians, yes; but not Israelis.


"It seems heartless and people's hearts and minds can't fathom this kind of behaviour so the level of anger in the public has risen, more and more, and all around the country we saw more and more people demonstrating in more and more locations."

Herzliya is a key indicator of the public mood. A wealthy, moderate city, its population is not keen to protest, less still, to risk the kind of clashes seen in Tel Aviv where 16 people were arrested after blocking the country's main motorway.

Ms Oren-Yanay said: "It means something when you see the number of protesters growing four times, it means Israel has reached a certain level of anger and frustration. It shows the way the wind is blowing."

On Sunday, teams from Israel and Hamas met with mediators from Egypt in Cairo to discuss a potential hostage deal. Sources told The Telegraph that they hoped that Egypt may have more success than Qatar, which until now, has failed to secure a deal between the two warring parties.

While Qatar hosts Hamas in Doha and does not have official diplomatic ties with Israel, a source with direct knowledge of the negotiations for the release of the Israeli hostages said: "The dramatic breakdown in negotiations has been caused by Qatar's impotence and the fact that its interests align totally with those of Hamas."

The source added: "The fact that senior Hamas officials feel so at home in Doha and continue to live their lives comfortably without any threat of being deported from the country or having consequences, such as bank account freezes, provides clear evidence of this.

"Qatar has a real ability to incentivise Hamas into a deal, but since November, not a single hostage has been released and time is running out," they said, as only 40 of the remaining hostages are believed to still be alive.


Comment: This nonsense, whilst they acknowledged earlier in the article Netanyahu has refused to enter into a deal.


"Those involved in the talks now understand that the choice of Qatar as mediator was a mistake. Egypt would have been a wiser choice. Unlike the Qataris, the Egyptians do not share Hamas's world view.

"There is no doubt that if Egypt had been the mediator from the start, we would have seen major results on the ground by now."