On Saturday, several thousand demonstrators took to the streets in Israel, demanding the release of hostages held by Hamas in Gaza. Some protesters went further, calling for the resignation of the government.

Relatives of the hostages accused Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of undermining ongoing negotiations with Hamas conducted through international mediators. The mother of a young Israeli held in Gaza stated during her speech that an agreement could expedite the return of the hostages. Addressing Netanyahu, she exclaimed, “I voted for you. When will you vote for me?”

In Tel Aviv, participants in another rally not only urged the government to step down but also called for new elections. Later in the evening, a group of several hundred demonstrators blocked major traffic arteries in the city, leading to the arrest of at least seven protesters.

Similar demonstrations occurred in Jerusalem and Haifa, all advocating for the release of the hostages.

The hostages were seized during unprecedented attacks in October by terrorists affiliated with the militant Islamist group Hamas and other extremist factions. These attacks resulted in 1,200 deaths and brought an additional 250 individuals to Gaza, escalating the conflict.

In November, a ceasefire led to the release of 105 hostages in exchange for 240 Palestinian prisoners. However, Hamas still holds 136 people, with Israeli estimates suggesting that at least 30 may have died in captivity.

Efforts by Egypt, Qatar, and the United States are underway to establish a more extended ceasefire and facilitate the exchange of hostages for Palestinian prisoners held in Israel. The negotiations are progressing slowly.

Simultaneously, the Israeli army continues to conduct substantial airstrikes and a ground offensive against Hamas. According to the regional health authority, over 28,000 Palestinians have lost their lives in the Gaza war, with a majority being civilians.