Israelis Increase Pressure on Netanyahu with Massive Protest

( – Protesters lined the streets outside of Israel’s Parliament in Jerusalem early this week. Hundreds of tents occupied the area of at least a city block, some with Israeli flags flying from their roofs. Protesters held banners and stickers demanding a cease-fire and the “redemption of captives.” Some messages were more direct displaying only one word: “ELECTIONS.” The tents and banners are part of a planned four-day protest against the way Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is handling the war with Hamas. Several Israeli citizens want early elections so that Netanyahu can be removed from his position.

Haggai Schwartz, a protester who had camped overnight, said in an interview that the Israeli government has “too many issues” and believes the need for change is urgent. He claims the government has failed in its highest responsibility: the security of its citizens. Schwartz said the people are calling for elections because the government won’t accept responsibility for the failure.

Some citizens blame Netanyahu for failures which led to the deadly terrorist attack on October 7th, 2023, when Hamas killed more than 1200 people and took 250 hostages in a surprise attack. Netanyahu promised to destroy Hamas and bring the hostages home. Around half of the hostages were released during a brief cease-fire in November, the rest are still being held captive. Families of the remaining hostages fear they are running out of time. Boaz Atzili, a family member of the hostages, said he doesn’t believe the government will bring the hostages home and that Netanyahu is only concerned about “his private interests” of remaining in power.

During a nationally televised speech on Sunday, Netanyahu said he understood the families of hostages were in pain, but calling new elections now in this “moment before victory” would only delay the hostage talks for months. Sheli Shem Tov, the parent of a hostage kidnapped from a music festival, agrees that changing the prime minister now would only cause a delay in the hostages coming home. Regular elections aren’t scheduled to occur until 2026.

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