Protesters for Gaza Hostages Convene Around Israel, Call for Netanyahu’s Removal

Anti-government protesters gathered Saturday night, May 25, at 60 locations across Israel to call for the dismissal of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, early elections, against the war in Gaza and a deal for the release of hostages held by Hamas. The central rally in Tel Aviv featured six arrests of protesters.

Hadash and Communist Party of Israel activists blocking Kaplan Street in Tel-Aviv, among them MK Ofer Cassif (in the middle, with a red flag), Saturday night, May 25, 2024 (Photo: Zo Haderech) 

Similar protests against the far-right government were held simultaneously around the country, in major cities including Jerusalem, Ra’anana, Nahariya, Kfar Saba, Eilat, Netanya, Afula, Nes Ziona, Kiryat Gat, Kiryat Bialik, Carmiel, Haifa, Zikhron Ya’acov, Rehovot, outside Netanyahu’s private residence in Caesarea and several junctions, among them: Horfish, Amiad, Nahalal, Tlalim, Ein Hanetizv, Haogen, Tzemach and Karkur. 

In Tel-Aviv, protesters wrote out a large message calling Netanyahu and his government a “complete disgrace.” Organizers of the main demonstration in Kaplan Street at Tel Aviv said over 100,000 people had attended. Alongside the anti-government protest at Democracy Square, a rally was held at Hostages Square outside the Tel Aviv Museum of Art, led by the families of some of the 125 hostages still held in the Gaza Strip.

Afterward, the families gave a statement to the press outside the Kirya Israeli army headquarters on Begin Street. Einav Zangauker, the mother of hostage Matan and one of the most prominent figures in the hostage movement, said: “We need to understand once and for all, the conditions for a deal have not changed. There won’t be a deal without the war ending.” “If the government doesn’t reach a deal now, Israel will in the end be forced to end the war without the return of hostages,” she continued.

Zangauker afterward spoke at a demonstration for the release of hostages on Begin Street that converged with the anti-government protest that ended earlier at Democracy Square.  “Matan, when you return home. I will tell you that the government betrayed you, all of you, all of us,” she said. Police, including mounted officers, dispersed with brutality a sit-in on Democracy Square on Kaplan Street that set fire and blocked traffic for hours to call for a hostage release deal and for the removal of Netanyahu’s far-right government.