In Israel, anti-Netanyahu protests are back

After a brief period of unity following October 7, internal strife in Israel has returned.

What’s happening: Tens of thousands of Israelis marched outside of the Knesset over the weekend, demanding new elections to oust Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

  • Context: Before October 7, there were massive weekly protests against Netanyahu’s government due to its push for judicial reform. However, after October 7, it was seen as necessary to unite in the war effort against Hamas.

  • Zoom out: After five months of war, many Israelis are angry that Netanyahu has not brought home more hostages and that the government is failing to conscript the ultra-religious population into military service.

Why it matters: Calls for new elections and government division may only serve to slow Israel’s military action and complicate hostage negotiations.

Hostage families: Sixteen relatives of Hamas hostages held a press conference in Tel Aviv criticizing Netanyahu for “botching” deals that would have brought their family members home.

  • The details: One relative said, “His concern for coalition stability outweighs his clear duty to bring our loved ones home ... We were told to sit still, we were told to travel the world, but after six months, the hostages are still in Gaza! This is a complete and deliberate failure!"

The rejected deal: Israel agreed to a six-week ceasefire and to release 700 Palestinian terrorists in exchange for 40 hostages. At the last moment, Hamas decided it would only agree to a deal that included a permanent ceasefire.

  • Consequences: There are over 100 hostages held by Hamas in Gaza, with survivors saying they endured torture and sexual assault. Every day without a hostage deal puts more of their lives at risk.

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