Middle east

Israeli Hostages Speak at Anti-War and Anti-Government Protests in Tel Aviv

A protester calls for the end of the war in Gaza, in Tel Aviv, Israel, Saturday, June 29, 2024.

TEL AVIV (Sputnik) – Thousands of protesters have gathered in Israeli cities on Saturday evening demanding early elections and an immediate conclusion of a deal to free hostages held by Palestinian movement Hamas for almost nine months, with the largest demonstration taking place in the center of Tel Aviv, a Sputnik correspondent reported. This comes amid a lack of progress in negotiations on a ceasefire deal in the Gaza Strip in exchange for the release of hostages and the threat of a full-scale war with Lebanon. The traditional protest in Tel Aviv is taking place near the complex of government buildings, where the Israeli Defense Ministry’s headquarters are located. Police forces have been stationed at the site to block traffic in the city center and erect barriers. Demonstrators are waving national flags, chanting anti-government slogans, beating drums and holding photos of hostages. The action has been coordinated with the police and has so far been held without disturbing public order. WorldHamas Insists on Russia Being One of Gaza Ceasefire Guarantors25 June, 07:27 GMTMultiple family members of hostages held in Palestine spoke during the event, and one former hostage addressed the crowd by video. One of the family members, Ayala Metzger, the sister-in-law to hostage Yoram Metzger, said that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is complicit in the deaths of Israeli hostages because of his insistence to continue the war.

"What stands between us and our loved ones is Netanyahu's insistence not to end the war as part of a deal. The implication of continuing the war is the murder of the hostages by the Israeli government! Blood will be on your hands!" Metzger said, according to Israeli media.

On October 7, 2023, Palestinian movement Hamas launched a large-scale rocket attack against Israel and breached the border, attacking both civilian neighborhoods and military bases. Nearly 1,200 people in Israel were killed and some 240 others abducted during the attack. Israel launched retaliatory strikes, ordered a complete blockade of Gaza, and started a ground incursion into the Palestinian enclave with the declared goal of eliminating Hamas fighters and rescuing the hostages. A total of 120 hostages are still believed to be held by Hamas in Gaza, and about a third of them are believed to be dead.

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