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Israel protests demand Netanyahu convey Hamas hostages residence from Gaza

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TEL AVIV — Members of the family of Israeli hostages held by Hamas braved winter thunderstorms Saturday for a second evening of protests since cease-fire negotiations stalled this week, a improvement that households blame on Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

1000’s gathered exterior Israeli army headquarters right here chanting “Now! Now! Now!” Demonstrators Thursday shut down a significant highway in downtown Tel Aviv; a bunch of hostage members of the family handcuffed themselves collectively and blocked the gates throughout a gathering of the struggle cupboard.

Some have set off coloured smoke bombs and carried posters depicting Netanyahu’s son Yair as a hostage with the legend: “How wouldn’t it be completely different it was him?”

On Friday, protesters fired flares within the air and demanded Netanyahu step down. Mounted police and vehicles blocked their manner. Demonstrators blame the prime minister for the safety failures resulting in the Hamas assault on Israeli communities on Oct. 7 — when authorities right here say militants killed 1,200 individuals — as properly his dealing with of the struggle in Gaza and the hostages since.

“Netanyahu has to go away or we’ll by no means get the hostages residence,” mentioned Karen Beltz, a Tel Aviv movie producer. She mentioned the protests have been starting to swell, however have been nonetheless not as giant or offended because the anti-government demonstrations that rocked Israel for months final yr.

Hamas and allied fighters took greater than 253 individuals hostage on Oct. 7. Greater than 100 have been freed in change for greater than 200 Palestinian detainees throughout a November pause in combating. Israeli authorities imagine that greater than 100 hostages stay in Gaza.

Advocates warn that point is operating out for the hostages, who’ve been held in Gaza for 19 weeks. They have been infuriated when Netanyahu pulled Israel’s workforce out of cease-fire negotiations in Cairo on Wednesday.

The prime minister mentioned additional talks have been pointless till Hamas dropped “delusional calls for” that Israel withdraw from Gaza and free 1000’s of detained Palestinians as a part of any hostage deal.

Israeli protesters block assist shipments to Gaza

The Cairo assembly, reportedly attended by Mossad head David Barnea, CIA Director William J. Burns and senior Hamas leaders from exterior of Gaza, adopted stories of progress in Paris talks. Hope rose among the many households of the remaining hostages, a few of whom are aged or injured.

Israel estimates that greater than two dozen hostages could have died. Officers have made the return of their stays a part of the negotiations.

Netanyahu, below stress from right-wing members of his slim governing majority to maintain up the Gaza offensive, ordered his workforce out of Egypt in defiance of not solely the calls for of the hostage households however the rising worldwide outrage over the hovering civilian loss of life toll in Gaza. In three months of struggle, greater than 28,000 Gazans have been killed, in response to the Gaza Well being Ministry.

Diplomats mentioned the negotiations brokered by Egypt, Qatar and the USA proceed. One Israeli acquainted with the dialogue mentioned Netanyahu’s public statements didn’t imply he has blocked Israeli negotiators from participating behind the scenes. “They’re nonetheless speaking,” mentioned the individual, who spoke on the situation of anonymity as a result of they weren’t licensed to remark.

However hostage teams reacted with fury. They mentioned Netanyahu was prioritizing the appeasement of his right-wing political base over reaching a deal.

“If the Cairo initiative fails, 134 youngsters and fogeys might be sacrificed and can die,” the most important household umbrella group mentioned in an announcement. “Don’t sacrifice them, don’t abandon them once more.”

One member of the family after one other took the stage Saturday to beseech the federal government to behave.

“Go away politics out of this,” the son of 1 hostage cried. “Deliver them residence now.”

1000’s got here out regardless of heavy rain and chilly winds by the weekend. Netanyahu has seen his help drop to all-time lows as residents more and more maintain him accountable for insurance policies that allowed Hamas to flourish, and the collapse of intelligence and safety that allowed the militants to guide the Oct. 7 assault.

Greater than two-thirds of Israelis wish to see early elections, polls present, and a couple of third are prepared for them even earlier than the Gaza struggle is concluded. On Saturday, the chief of Israel’s largest and most influential commerce union group referred to as on Netanyahu to step down and face the voters.

“We’re at a useless finish, and there’s just one manner out — elections,” mentioned Arnon Bar-David, the top of Histadrut, native media reported.

Anger in opposition to the prime minister is rising, however analysts say it’s unlikely to achieve essential mass till the variety of fight forces in Gaza comes down, tensions ease alongside the border with Lebanon and the hostages are freed.

“There isn’t a way that we’re in a postwar state of affairs but,” mentioned Yohanan Plesner, president of the Israel Democracy Institute. “However we’re getting there.”

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