Peace Activists Gather Against War in Gaza; Tens of Thousands Protest Across Israel

Demonstrators turned up Saturday night, June 8, in Tel Aviv, Beersheba, Ra’anana, Haifa, Caesarea, Karkur, Jerusalem, and other 50 locations around Israel. In Tel Aviv alone, according to organizers, one hundred thousand attended. Earlier with the weekly demonstrations against the far-right government, the Partnership for Peace held a rally in Tel Aviv’s Habima Square calling to “stop the war as the occupation marks its 57th year,” referring to Israel’s occupation during the 1967 Six Day War of the Palestinian territories.

Thousands participated in the annual rally against occupation and war held by Partnership for Peace at Habima Square in Central Tel-Aviv, June 8, 2024 (Photo: Zo Haderech)

Among the civil society and human rights organizations who are members of the coalition: Hadash, Young Communist League, Academia for Equality, All That’s Left, Itach-Ma’aki- Women Lawyers for Social Justice,  Mothers Against Violence, Isha L’Isha Feminist Center in Haifa, The School for Peace at Neve Shalom,  Gush Shalom, Democracy for All, The Bloc Against Occupation, Parents Against Child Detention, Zochrot, Mother’s Cry , Yesh Gvul,  This is Not an Ulpan, Combatants for Peace, Mahsom Watch, Mesarvot, Women Against Violence, Osim Shalom – Social Workers for Peace, Oz VeShalom, Standing Together, Ir Amim, Coexistence Forum in the Negev, Parents Circle Families Forum, Psychoactive, Jordan Valley Activists, New Profile, Free Jerusalem, Rabbis for Human Rights, Mizrachi Civil Collective, Breaking Walls , Breaking the Silence, Torat Tzedek, Tandi – Democratic Women Movement in Israel, Ta’al – Arab Movement for Change,, Haqel – Alliance for the Protection of Human Rights and Mothers for Life.

An organizer from the coalition of dozens of Israeli left-wing and human rights organizations — said Friday that the police did not authorize the protest, the annual march from Dizengoff Square to Kaplan Street in Central Tel-Aviv. The anti-war protest was held in Habima Square in Tel Aviv, and during the meeting cops censuring the 10 commandments and arrested two Hadash activists for holding a sign saying – “You shall not kill.” In a video from the scene an officer is shouting “there will be no ‘Do not murder’ sign here. I call the shots.” Other activist was arrested by violence.

All Hadash MKs participated in the rally, Ayman Odeh, Aida Touma-Sliman, Ofer Cassif and Youssef Atawneh, alongside Hadash chair and former MK Issam Makhoul, Communist Party of Israel Adel Amer and former Hadash MKs Tamar Gozansky, Dov Khenin and Youssef Jabareen. During the protest Cassif said journalists that he condemned the far-right government for the “high human price” paid to retrieve earlier on Saturday four Israeli captives from Gaza. “The liberation is joyful; the price is disgraceful. There is certainly no heroism here. The blood of thousands – abductees, Palestinian civilians, Israelis and soldiers – could and should have been spared if the government of atrocities had come to a deal immediately after the October massacre and on the countless occasions since then,” Cassif added. The Palestinian death toll resulting from the horrific massacre committed yesterday by occupation forces in the Nuseirat refugee camp, in central Gaza, has risen to 274, with nearly 700 people sustaining injuries, mostly civilians, according to WAFA Palestinian news agency.

Protesters at rallies across the country on Saturday night called for new elections and the return of the hostages held in captivity in Gaza, hours after the military announced that four hostages were rescued alive from central Gaza’s Nuseirat camp. While joy over the rescue of Noa Argamani, Shlomo Ziv, Almog Meir Jan and Andrey Kozlov was evident at the protests, so too was anger over the conduct of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his government. In Tel Aviv 33 protesters were arrested during demonstrations and that all roads near the protests were opened to traffic around midnight. At Haifa, cops brutally dispersed anti-war protesters and arrested three activists. 

In Jerusalem, after speeches ended in Paris Square, hundreds of protesters blocked the intersection outside the prime minister’s residence, sitting down in the middle of the road while chanting slogans in support of a hostage deal and against the ongoing war in Gaza. The mass act of civil disobedience caught cops by surprise, with organizers having led the general public to believe that a march to Independence Park would follow the speeches. Protesters also convened in Netanyahu’s hometown of Caesarea to call for early elections and a deal to release the remaining hostages and five were arrested.

In southern Israel, several dozen people gathered in the desert town of Mitzpe Ramon, while thousands marched up north in Haifa. Also up north, protesters blocked traffic at key intersections in protests against the government’s policy regarding ongoing Hezbollah attacks, which have resulted in eight months of internal displacement for tens of thousands of people. At Karkur Junction, a convoy of tractors joined a group of protesters who were shoved off the road by police officers for blocking traffic, while at Amiad Junction, protesters and evacuated residents blocked traffic with bales of hay and other crops, demanding to know when they would be able to return home.