Amid Iran Threats, Tens of Thousands at Weekly Anti-Government Rallies

In its first-ever direct attack on Israel, Iran launched overnight, Sunday, April 14, hundreds of suicide attack drones as well as cruise and ballistic missiles toward the country in response to the deadly Israeli strike on an Iranian diplomatic compound in Damascus on April 1.

“Stop the war in Gaza”, Communist Party of Israel and Hadash activists during the weekly protest held on Kaplan Street in Tel-Aviv, Saturday evening, April 13, 2024 (Photo: Zo Haderech)

Tens of thousands of Israelis protested in Tel Aviv, Jerusalem, Haifa, Beer Sheva, Eilat, Nahariya, Kfar Sava and other cities around the country Saturday evening with demands for the release of hostages held in the Gaza Strip and new elections, as the anti-government movement maintained its momentum despite the threat of the imminent Iranian attack on the country.

Tens of thousands congregated on Kaplan Street in Tel Aviv for the weekly protest that has spearheaded activity against the far-right government. The rally called for early elections, the removal of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu from office and a deal for the release of hostages held by Hamas.

Police blocked off large chunks of Kaplan Street and Begin Street, as well as nearby exits of the Ayalon Highway, which protesters blocked off during their weekly demonstrations. Police initially forbade demonstrators from convening at the corner of Kaplan and Begin Street, known as Democracy Square, but in recent weeks have seen an increasing convergence between the protests of the hostage’s families and the mass anti-government demonstrations that were a weekly event in the months before October 7. Now, the families accuse Netanyahu of blocking a deal for political reasons.

Einav Zangauker, whose son Matan is held hostage by Hamas in Gaza, accused Netanyahu Saturday of torpedoing a potential deal for the release of the hostages. Speaking along with the relatives of several other hostages at a press conference on Begin Street in Tel Aviv, shortly before the two rallies began, Zangauker, who has said she is a former voter for Netanyahu’s Likud party, denounced the prime minister in notably bitter language. “You are responsible for the abandonment of the hostages in Gaza,” she charged. “Because of you, Israeli women are being raped now in Gaza. Because of you, Israeli men are being tortured in Gaza. Because of you, hostages are being murdered in captivity. Yes, because of you.”