Anti-Govt Protesters Block Highways, Interchanges Around Israel

Anti-government protesters block Sunday (June 16) morning a number of major highways across the country among them Route 1 toward Jerusalem, Route 2 Tel-Aviv-Haifa, Route 4 heading south from Raanana, Ayalon in north Tel Aviv and Einat, Nahalim, Kfar Tabor, Gazit, Yabor, Haogen, Ramat Hachayal, North Jaffa and Kadouri interchanges. 

“Elections now!”, protesters blocking Route 4 heading south from Raanana, June 16, 2024 (Photo: Danor Aharon / Black Flag Protest)

Activists have organized a week of protests in which they say they aim to get a million people onto the streets in a call for elections and a hostage deal. During press conference held in Tel-Aviv on Sunday afternoon, organizers of anti-government protests give further details on the ongoing week of disruption, which began with the blocking of major highways in the morning. press conference features the leaders of a number of protest groups.

“Our goal is clear – to return the mandate to the people immediately and go to elections before the anniversary of the failures of October 7,” says Eran Schwartz, head of the Free in our Land protest group. “The government prioritizes political survival over the national interest, as we have seen in dozens of examples in recent months”. Schwartz calls for local authorities, labor unions and business leaders to join the protests.

Protest leader Moshe Radman says that only elections can bring hope. “This is a government that abandons its people. Netanyahu, what are you afraid of? Only a dictator is afraid of his people,” he says.

Local rallies and events are set to be held nationwide tomorrow, then a large protest will take place at the Knesset in Jerusalem at 7 p.m. before demonstrators march to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s residence. Another rally will be held at the Knesset on Tuesday evening at 7 p.m. A rally is also to be held in the south on Wednesday evening. On Thursday, protests will be held outside Netanyahu’s residences in Jerusalem and Caesarea.

On Saturday evening, cops arrested 12 demonstrators in Tel Aviv on at the tail end of hours of protests in support of a hostage deal and against Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his far-right coalition. Police arrested aldo a photographer for Haaretz, Itay Ron, despite passersby telling the officers that he is a journalist They skirmished with police soon after setting the fires, and there were also skirmishes when demonstrators sought to block the city’s main Ayalon Highway.

160 thousand demonstrated at Kaplan Street in Tel Aviv, according organizers, and numerous protests were held around the country, with some speakers declaring that complete victory over Hamas is impossible and therefore the war should be ended to secure the hostages’ release. Other protests were held in Beersheba, Ra’anana, Haifa, Caesarea, Karkur, Jerusalem, and other 50 locations around Israel

In Hostages Square, a few blocks away from the Kaplan protest, the Hostages and Missing Families Forum took a critical position against  war in Gaza, as one of the spokespeople emceeing its weekly rally told the crowd that Israel will never achieve Netanyahu’s promised “total victory” against Hamas.

“We all know the heavy losses that the Americans had in Vietnam and even the Germans did not snuff out the partisans,” Rami Beja told the thousands who gathered in Hostages Square. Earlier on Saturday evening, a number of hostage families demanding an end to the war as part of a hostage deal addressed the media at their routine spot near the Begin Gate of the Israeli army Kirya Headquarters, voicing similar sentiments.

Ayala Metzger, whose father-in-law Yoram’s body is held by Hamas, warned of an additional major war in the north as Hezbollah relentlessly fires on northern Israel. “The continuation of the war will bring a continuation of the loss of life, among the abducted soldiers and civilians from both sides. A deal means security. A deal will bring security on all fronts,” argued Metzger.

In Jerusalem, protesters chanted, “No to a Kahanist government” and “he who abandoned, must bring them [the hostages] back!” while awaiting speeches to begin onstage. Tom Barkai, an organizer with the Jerusalem Hostages and Missing Families Forum, accused Netanyahu of torpedoing a prospective hostage deal. 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.