Pressure on Netanyahu grows as hostage, peace protests widen

Pressure on Netanyahu grows as hostage, peace protests widen
There has been a rise in protests in Israel over the issue of the remaining hostages, as well as activists who are opposed to Israel's war on Gaza.
3 min read
22 January, 2024
Families erected tents outside Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's residence on Sunday to pressure the government to attain the return of Israeli hostages in Gaza [Photo by Mostafa Alkharouf/Anadolu via Getty Images]

Domestic pressure on the Israeli government of Benjamin Netanyahu is growing as protests against the government over Israeli hostages held in Gaza become more prominent.

The families of Israeli hostages held in Gaza conducted two separate protests demanding the Israeli government reach a deal with Hamas to release the remaining 132 hostages who were captured by Hamas during its 7 October attack on Israel.

On Monday, 20 relatives of the families broke into the Israeli Knesset building and disrupted a Knesset Finance Committee session which was held at the time.

The protesters chanted "Release them now, now, now!", with others shouting at Knesset members demanding the return of their loved ones.

Knesset ushers who often eject hecklers, and protesters quickly, stood by and watched as the protest occurred.

The protest by family members comes following the beginning of another protest outside Netanyahu's residents in west Jerusalem on Sunday.

The protest, organised by the Hostages and Missing Families Forum, set up tents on the road with the intention of staying put until an agreement to return the hostages is made.

According to reports by the Times of Israel, the demonstrators saw protesters chanting slogans against the government during the speeches from the family members.

Live Story

The actions come following Netanyahu's rejection of Hamas' conditions for the release of hostages, one of which would end Israel's onslaught on Gaza and see a withdrawal of the military personnel from the enclave.

Following Netanyahu's rejection of the conditions, Hamas official Sami Abu Zuhri said that the refusal to end the war would mean "there is no chance for the return of the (Israeli) captives".

In addition to the protest action from families of hostages, there has been a growth of peace protests within Israel, some of which have united Jewish Israelis and Palestinian citizens of Israel.

On Saturday a two-hour protest in Haifa, organised by the political party Hadash, saw 300 Jewish and Palestinian citizens of Israel denounce Israel's war in Gaza.

During the protest activists called for a permanent ceasefire a hostage for prisoner exchanges akin to the Qatar-brokered deal that saw the release of 105 Israeli hostages and a ceasefire.

Live Story

It comes off the back of a peace protest held in Tel Aviv last Thursday which saw 2,000 people march through the city calling for the end of military operations in Gaza and the return of Israeli hostages.

The protest was led by organisations Standing Together and Women Wage Peace and had previously been delayed a week following police restrictions on the protest.

Since 7 October 25,295 Palestinians have been killed by Israel in its operations in Gaza, with a further 63,000 injured according to Gaza's health authorities.

198 Israeli soldiers have been killed in Israel's ground invasion of Gaza, which has yet to achieve the government's stated objectives of freeing the hostages and "eliminating" Hamas.

US intelligence reports have said that the Israeli military has only eliminated roughly 20 to 30 percent of Hamas' fighting force and that the group would likely be able to fight on in Gaza for several more months.