President Herzog Heckled by Protesters as He Urges to Help Bring Hostages Home

President Isaac Herzog sought to draw international awareness to hostages held by Hamas in Gaza on Sunday, addressing a 24-hour rally in Tel Aviv marking 100 days since their kidnapping, as the audience screamed “Now! Now!” and “Shame! Shame!”, booed his speech, practically drowning him out, in a protest against far-right government. The crowd chanted and booed so loudly that Herzog requested they pause to allow him to address the rest of his remarks

Demonstrators blocking Ibn Gvirol street in Tel-Aviv and demanding “bring back our sisters” after the 24-hour rally for hostages marking 100 days since the start of the war in Gaza at “Hostage Square” in Tel Aviv Museum, January 14, 2024 (Photo: Zo Haderech)

The 24 hours of events and protests at the “Hostages Square” in central Tel Aviv winded down Sunday evening, after a day of speeches from international figures, freed hostages, and relatives of the 136 hostages still held in Gaza, while workers went on strike nationwide for 100 minutes.  According to organizes, some 300,000 people in total had attended the events throughout the day.

During the rally in Tel-Aviv Yuval Or, whose son Dror Or was taken captive and daughter-in-law Yonat was murdered on October 7, accosted far right coalition settler MK Zvi Sukkot of the racist Religious Zionism party, as he visited the site, expressing blame toward him and the ruling coalition. “My son is held hostage because of him. He murdered my daughter-in-law,” he yelled at the lawmaker, calling on him to leave. “He is the murderer. They are murderers. They are all murderers,” he added.

An estimated 120,000 people attended the beginning of a 24-hour rally in Tel Aviv on Saturday night to mark 100 days since the hostages were kidnapped into Gaza during Hamas’s October 7 deadly attack in southern Israel. The figure, provided by organizers, would make the rally one of the largest held in Israel over the past three months from the beginning of the war.

Speaking at the rally, Ronen Neutra said that during a recent meeting with Qatari Prime Minister Mohammed bin Abdulrahman bin Jassim Al Thani, he stressed the importance of remaining focused and creative in order to reach an agreement. “The best answer is a political solution and not a military one,” said Neutra, whose son Omer is among the hostages.”

The rally included protests against far-right Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his government. Protesters later blocked the Ayalon Highway in Tel Aviv. Seven protesters were arrested on suspicion of “disturbing order,” and the route was later cleared by police. In Jerusalem, police forcibly disperse anti-war protesters at the US consulate in Agron Street.

Several thousand protest across Israel against the far-right government on Saturday night in Tel Aviv, Haifa, Jerusalem, near Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s private residence in Caesarea and Karkur Junction, against far-right government, calling for early elections and the Knesset’s dissolution.

Neta Spillman, whose brother Ilan was murdered at the Supernova festival, denounces Israel’s leadership at the rally held at Habima Square: “You, prime minister, are guilty,” she says. “How do you sleep at night.” She asks why the hostages have not been returned, and why Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is still in office: “Why are the Bibas family still there, and you’re still here?” “Netanyahu must go,” she added.

Latterly, down the road from Habima, at Kaplan Street several hundred of the “Radical Block” activists, among them Hadash and Communist Party of Israel members, demonstrated against the war. Many of protestors bearing banners that were highly antagonistic toward Netanyahu and his fascist coalition, as well against the war in Gaza. “The cry of mothers: Get our soldiers out of Gaza now,” read one banner, while another called for “A diplomatic agreement.” “This is our life with Netanyahu in power. Catastrophe after catastrophe after catastrophe,” the demonstrators chanted.