Hundreds gathered in Tel Aviv and outside Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s home in Caesarea on Saturday, 29 October, demanding a ceasefire in Gaza.
Among the protesters were relatives of the over 200 people held hostage in Gaza in the aftermath of the 7 October attack. The protestors called for their loved ones’ release and held signs of children taken by Hamas militants in recent raids.
Some demonstrators also called for Netanyahu’s resignation, while others lit candles spelling out “guilty” and “shame.”
Similar protests occurred outside Economy Minister Nir Barkat’s Jerusalem home, with about 20 vigils held that evening. These demonstrations coincided with a meeting between Netanyahu and hostage families’ representatives.
Hamas has demanded the release of all Palestinian prisoners in Israel in exchange for the Israeli and foreign hostages held in Gaza.
The Israeli military has declined this offer, referring to it as “psychological terror,” and says it is working through various other channels to secure the hostages’ release.
Relatives of the hostages are urging the Israeli government to agree to the deal, especially as Israel continues its bombardment of Gaza, where a significant number of casualties, including hostages, have occurred over the past three weeks.
The Israeli government is under increasing pressure, not only from the families of the hostages but also from foreign nations whose citizens are among those held in Gaza. These countries have urged the Israeli government to postpone any ground incursion, allowing more time for diplomatic efforts to secure the release of the captives.
Netanyahu has been under fire for the past 24 hours after placing blame on defense and intelligence officials for the 7 October Hamas attacks. The tweet was made following the Israeli Prime Minister’s refusal to take personal responsibility for the attacks in a press conference, stating that all individuals, including himself, would need to provide the public with answers.
Subsequently, he posted a tweet that blamed defense and intelligence officials but later deleted it on Sunday morning, shortly before issuing an apology.
Several Israeli cities and towns were struck by rockets launched by Hamas over the weekend, resulting in property damage and injuries to a large number of Israelis.
Three people with minor wounds received treatment on Saturday night from Magen David Adom emergency responders following rocket impacts in Tel Aviv, Holon, and Yehud.
THE CONFLICT SO FAR
After a surprise attack conducted on 7 October by Hamas on a number of southern Israeli towns which resulted in the deaths of an esimated 1,405 people and more than 220 being taken hostage by Hamas, Israel launched a retaliatory bombing campaign against what it describes as ‘terrorist targets’ in the Gaza Strip.
At least 7,650 Palestinians have been killed in the Gaza Strip — including over 3,000 children — and 19,450 others injured. Meanwhile, 111 Palestinians have been killed in the West Bank and at least 1,950 have been injured.
The priority of the Egyptian government since the beginning of the conflict has been de-escalation and the securing of a path for aid to enter the Gaza Strip through the Rafah crossing. Israel bombed the crossing at least six times, and 80 aid trucks have crossed to Gaza so far, which UN officials warn is insufficient amid dire humanitarian conditions.
Most Western countries, with the United States at the forefront, have expressed unconditional support for Israel, despite the steadily rising death toll in Gaza. Meanwhile, the United Nations General Assembly has issued a resolution calling for a ceasefire.