Protesters Block Tel Aviv Highway, Demand Hostage Deal: ‘It’s Either Rafah or Hostages’

Protesters in Tel Aviv block highway, demand hostage deal with Hamas as Israel plans offensive in Gaza. U.S. pushes for ceasefire to free hostages and pause conflict.

Shivani Chauhan
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Protesters Block Tel Aviv Highway, Demand Hostage Deal and Warn Against Gaza Offensive

Protesters Block Tel Aviv Highway, Demand Hostage Deal: ‘It’s Either Rafah or Hostages’

Protesters, including family members of hostages, on Thursday, blocked Tel Aviv's Ayalon Highway, calling for an immediate hostage deal and warning against Israel's planned offensive in Rafah, Gaza, which they believe would endanger the lives of the hostages. The protesters held signs that read "it's either the hostages or Rafah" and stated that the only way to save the hostages is through a deal, not continued fighting.

Ayala Metzger, the daughter-in-law of a hostage, said that no one has come to help after seven months and it's time to bring the hostages home. The protesters vowed to continue disrupting daily life until the hostages are returned. Simultaneously, the women's protest for the return of the hostages set up photos of the female hostages in front of Prime Minister Netanyahu's house in Jerusalem.

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken, seeks, avert, offensive, getting, Hamas, met with Israeli leaders, including Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, to push for a ceasefire deal between Israel and Hamas that would free hostages and bring a pause in the nearly seven-month Israel, Hamas, war, news in Gaza. The current round of talks appears to be serious, but the sides remain far apart on the issue of whether the war should end as part of the deal.

Netanyahu has vowed to carry out a military operation in Rafah, which Israel says is the last major Hamas stronghold, despite U.S. opposition to a major offensive. The proposed ceasefire deal, brokered by the U.S., Egypt, and Qatar, would involve a phased withdrawal of Israeli forces from Gaza and the release of hostages in exchange for the release of Palestinian prisoners. However, Hamas wants stronger language on a complete Israeli withdrawal from Gaza.

Why this matters: The ongoing conflict between Israel and Hamas in Gaza has resulted in a prolonged hostage situation, with the lives of Israeli civilians hanging in the balance. The protests in Tel Aviv highlight the growing public pressure on the Israeli government to prioritize the safe return of the hostages and avoid military actions that could further endanger their lives.

The situation remains tense, with the lives of hostages potentially at risk if the offensive in Rafah goes ahead. Blinken, pushes, clear, position, meeting reiterated the Biden administration's opposition to a full-scale invasion of Rafah "absent an effective plan to make sure that civilians are not harmed," which Israel has not yet provided. As negotiations continue, the protesters called on the prime minister and the cabinet not to succumb to extremist pressure that uses the hostages as an excuse to continue waging war, and to choose life instead.

Key Takeaways

  • Protesters block Tel Aviv highway, demand hostage deal to avoid Rafah offensive.
  • U.S. Secretary of State Blinken meets Israeli leaders, pushes for ceasefire deal.
  • Proposed deal involves phased Israeli withdrawal, hostage release for prisoner release.
  • Netanyahu vows Rafah offensive despite U.S. opposition, public pressure to save hostages.
  • Negotiations continue, protesters call for choosing life over extremist pressure.