Tens of Thousands Protest in Tel Aviv, Demanding New Elections and Release of Gaza Captives

Thousands protest in Tel Aviv, demanding new elections and government action to secure release of Israeli hostages held in Gaza amid ongoing conflict.

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Muthana Al-Najjar
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Tens of Thousands Protest in Tel Aviv, Demanding New Elections and Release of Gaza Captives

Tens of Thousands Protest in Tel Aviv, Demanding New Elections and Release of Gaza Captives

On April 21, 2024, thousands of protesters marched in Tel Aviv, Israel, demanding new elections and government action to secure the release of captives held in Gaza. The demonstration was the latest against Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's leadership, as the war in Gaza moves through its seventh month and amid growing anger over the government's approach to the 133 Israeli hostages still held by the Islamist movement Hamas.

The protests come amid ongoing violence between Israel and Hamas in Gaza, which has killed over 34,000 Palestinians, including many civilians. Israel has carried out near-daily air raids on the city of Rafah, where over half of Gaza's population has sought refuge, killing 22 people, including 18 children, in recent strikes. The U.S. is on track to approve billions of dollars in additional military aid to Israel, its close ally, as the conflict continues to escalate.

Tensions have also spiked in the Israeli-occupied West Bank, where Israeli troops have killed several Palestinians. The protesters in Tel Aviv are demanding a new election to replace Netanyahu and a deal with Hamas to release the hostages held in Gaza.

Surveys indicate that most Israelis blame Netanyahu for the security failures that led to the devastating attack by Hamas fighters on communities in southern Israel on October 7. Netanyahu has pledged to continue the Israeli campaign in Gaza, which local health authorities say has killed more than 34,000 Palestinians, until all the hostages are brought home and Hamas has been destroyed.

Why this matters: The ongoing conflict in Gaza and the issue of Israeli captives held by Hamas have become major points of contention in Israeli politics. The protests reflect growing public frustration with Prime Minister Netanyahu's handling of the crisis and could potentially lead to significant political changes in Israel.

Opposition leader Yair Lapid told the crowd that the current government is a "disaster for the country" and called for immediate elections. Former Israeli Chief of Staff Dan Halutz also criticized Netanyahu, saying he is not interested in the return of the hostages because it would mark the end of his rule. The protesters, organized by the Hostages and Missing Families Forum, linked their demand to the upcoming Passover holiday, stating that "it would be hard to celebrate Passover while the hostages are still in Gaza."

Key Takeaways

  • Thousands protest in Tel Aviv, demand new elections, hostage release from Gaza.
  • Ongoing Israel-Hamas conflict in Gaza has killed over 34,000 Palestinians, including civilians.
  • U.S. to approve billions in military aid to Israel as conflict escalates.
  • Protests reflect public frustration with PM Netanyahu's handling of crisis.
  • Opposition calls for immediate elections, criticize Netanyahu's disinterest in hostage return.