Protesters Block Roads as Rallies Nationwide Demand Hostage Deal and Urge Elections

Protesters blocked roads in Tel Aviv amid nationwide demonstrations Saturday evening, February 10, demanded the release of hostages held by the Hamas, called for elections, while some in mayor cities were against the war in Gaza. Demonstrations were held in Tel Aviv, Jerusalem, Haifa, Beersheba, Rehovot, Ra’anana, Kfar Sava, Karkur Junction, Caesarea, Mitzpe Ramon, Eilat and other localities throughout the country.

“Hadash against the war”, Hadash and Communist Party of Israel marching at Ibn Gabirol Street in Tel-Aviv. Latterly protestors blocked Kaplan Street holding a sign with the number of the Palestinian murdered by Israel and calling for ceasefire February 10, 2024 (Photo: Zo Haderech)

Calls for an election have grown amid intense criticism of the far-right government for the failures that enabled the October 7 attacks with repeated polls showing Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu losing his majority in the Knesset if a vote was to be held today.

At the main rally against Netanyahu at Habima Square in Tel Aviv, thousands of protesters marched down Ibn Gabirol Street and blocked Kaplan Street. Police on horses attempted to clear the street and push the demonstrators toward the sides, amid cries of “shame” from the crowd. At least seven protesters were arrested during the protest.

Simultaneously relatives of Hamas hostages in Gaza, as well as activists working for their release, blocked the Ayalon highway for an hour and set bonfires ablaze. The demonstrators, who included the Moses, Palty-Katzir, Calderon, Or, Metzger, and Haiman families, addressed Netanyahu, stating, “You abandoned them on October 7, and you continue to abandon them for 127 days out of political considerations. If you don’t free them right now, we won’t let you off the hook and won’t give you a moment of silence. The hostages’ time is running out.”

Labor MK Gilad Kariv was violently pushed by cops during the protest at Kaplan Street after asking under what authority a police officer was allowed to confiscate equipment from protesters. In response to the event, MK Kariv commented, “When the police use violence against members of the Knesset, one can only speculate what kind of violence is directed at other protestors. After all our appeals to the top of the police regarding the issue of protest rights have not been answered in recent weeks, we expect the immediate intervention of the government’s legal advisor.”

Einav Zangauker, whose son Matan is being held hostage in Gaza, called for an end to the fighting in Gaza to retrieve the hostages. She said before thousands of people in Tel Aviv’s Hostages Square, “are part of a framework for a deal that could bring the hostages tomorrow morning, but you are hiding the terms from us and preventing the deal,” Zangauker added, addressing Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Zangauker, who had voted for Netanyahu and his Likud party, urged him “not to get squeezed by [Itamar] Ben Gvir and [Bezalel] Smotrich,” Netanyahu’s racist coalition partners. She added: “I voted for you at the ballot box. When will you vote for me?” Thousands cry out “shame” on Hostages Square in support of Zangauker.

“Netanyahu has started his scare campaign – we know them from the past: ‘Peres will divide Jerusalem’; ‘the Arabs are arriving in droves to vote’; ‘the Iranian nuclear project’ – and now he scares us that there will be a massacre if we accept the terms of the deal with Hamas”, added at the hostages rally in Tel-Aviv Danny Elgarat, whose brother Itzik Elgarat was abducted on October 7 from Kibbutz Nir Oz. Elgarat says that “Israel is not a sovereign nation, it just does whatever the United States tells it. Only stopping the war and retrieving the hostages will restore faith in Israel’s sovereignty.”

In Jerusalem a large crowd gathers at Paris Square to rally for the hostages as Elad Or, brother of hostage Dror Or taken from Kibbutz Re’im on October 7 after his wife was killed and their two children were abducted but later released, says “People say we only care about our own people, but the people here are the answer to that. You represent solidarity and unity. You understand that it’s a fight for us all.”

A protester was arrested by police Saturday afternoon after reading the names of hostages in Gaza into a megaphone outside the private residence of Netanyahu in the coastal city of Caesarea. Protesters have been gathering for weeks outside the home calling for an urgent deal that would free the remaining hostages held in Gaza and demanding the resignation of the far-right government. The protester, Dr. Yolanda Yavor, a resident of Or Akiva, was taken to the Hadera police station where other protesters gathered calling for her release.