Hostage Families Ask Histadrut to Call Strike, Block Tel Aviv-Jerusalem Highway

Relatives of hostages held in Gaza have blocked on Friday, April 19, the Israeli main highway linking Jerusalem and Tel Aviv, Zo Haderech reported. Hundreds of protesters, including the family members and their supporters, gathered and blocked off Route 1 and burned barrels set up in the middle of the highway and held up signs with pictures of their loved ones, calling on far-right government to do more to reach a deal.

Police and firefighters then moved in to disperse the demonstrators and douse the flames. At one point, a driver who attempted to pass the roadblock struck one of the protesters in the leg. Videos on social media showed the scene immediately afterward, with other protesters coming to the injured woman’s aid.

“General strike now”, hundreds of protesters led by hostages’ family members marching to the Histadrut headquarters in Tel-Aviv, Thursday, April 18, 2024 (Photo: Michal Warshavsky)

Thursday evening, hundreds of protesters led by hostages’ family members are gathered outside of Tel Aviv’s Kirya military headquarters and demanded an immediate hostage deal. Then, the demonstrators marched to the headquarters of the Histadrut labor federation and call for a general strike in hopes of pressuring the government into negotiating a deal with Hamas. They blocked main streets in Central Tel-Aviv.

One of the protest’s leaders Einav Zangauker, whose son Matan Zangauker is held captive in Gaza, has risen to prominence in recent weeks for her outspoken criticism of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Demonstrators at the march chanted, “[Histadrut Chairman Arnon] Bar David, wake up. Everything is crumbling around you!” “General strike now!” and “Hostages’ deal now!”

Earlier, family members of hostages held by Hamas sent a letter to Histadrut labor federation chair asking him to call for a strike that would shut down Israel’s economy and apply “any pressure possible” to return the hostages. “We, families of the hostages signed below, turned to you, Arnon Bar-David, because the negotiations are stuck, and this may cost the hostages in Hamas captivity their lives,” reads the letter, signed by over 100 family members. “Unfortunately, the Israeli government has failed thus far to bring back all the hostages,” said the families. “Mr. Chairman, you fill a very important and strategic role in the state of Israel, and as such, we believe that it is in your responsibility and ability to advance the release of the hostages in Hamas captivity.”