Mass protest in Tel Aviv demands release of Gaza hostages, early elections

Relatives of hostages gather to stage a protest against the government of Prime Minister Netanyahu and demanding an end to Israeli attacks on Gaza. (Photo/AA)

Thousands of Israelis held a protest in the capital Tel Aviv, demanding the release of hostages held in Gaza and calling for early elections, an Israeli media outlet reported.

The Israeli broadcasting authority reported on Saturday that the protesters gathered at Kaplan Square, calling for a hostage swap deal with Palestinian factions in Gaza and for early elections.

Families of hostages held in Gaza also participated in the protests, delivering speeches in front of the demonstrators, according to the authority.

Demonstrations in Israel have intensified following a video which Qassam Brigades released showing two Israeli hostages demanding their release, stating that they are living under difficult conditions amid Israeli bombardment.

In response to the video, families of the hostages said in a statement: “Israel must choose between (invading) Rafah or a deal (with Hamas),” the Israeli newspaper Yedioth Ahronoth reported.

9,000 Palestinians held in Israeli jails

The families urged government members to release the hostages held in Gaza, even if it means ending the war.

Tel Aviv believes 134 Israelis are being held in Gaza, while Israel is holding some 9,000 Palestinians in its jails.

Israel has killed more than 34,300 Palestinians since an October 7, 2023 cross-border attack by Hamas in which some 1,200 Israelis were killed and around 250 hostages taken. 

A previous deal in November saw the release of 81 Israelis and 24 foreigners in exchange for 240 Palestinians, including 71 women and 169 children.

The US, Qatar and Egypt have tried to broker an agreement to release the remaining Israeli captives.

The conflict has pushed 85 percent of Gaza’s population into internal displacement amid acute shortages of food, clean water, and medicine, while 60 percent of the enclave's infrastructure has been damaged or destroyed.

Israel stands accused of genocide at the International Court of Justice (ICJ), which in January issued an interim ruling that ordered Tel Aviv to stop genocidal acts and take measures to guarantee that humanitarian assistance is provided to civilians in Gaza.


Source: TRT