Tens of thousands of Israelis rally against Netanyahu as Gaza war reaches six month mark

05:12PM Sun 7 Apr, 2024

Tens of thousands of Israelis took to the streets on Saturday to protest against Benjamin Netanyahu, as Israel’s war in Gaza reached its half-year mark.

Organisers said about 100,000 people converged at a Tel Aviv crossroads renamed, Democracy Square, since mass protests against controversial judicial reforms last year.

Chanting “elections now”, protesters called for the Israeli prime minister’s resignation, with the war in Gaza set to enter its seventh month on Sunday.

Rallies were also held in other cities, with Israel’s opposition leader Yair Lapid taking part in one in Kfar Saba ahead of his departure for talks in Washington.

“They haven’t learned anything, they haven’t changed,” he said, adding, “until we send them home, they won’t give this country a chance to move forward.”

Israeli media said clashes had broken out between protesters and police at the Tel Aviv rally and police said one protester had been arrested.

Later, the protesters in Tel Aviv were joined by families of Gaza hostages and their supporters.

Earlier, the army announced that troops had recovered the body of a hostage abducted by Palestinian militants during the 7 October.

The body of Elad Katzir, a 47-year-old farmer from Nir Oz kibbutz, was unearthed by commandos in southern Khan Younis, the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) said. He had been killed by his Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) captors and buried there in mid-January, it said, citing intelligence information without giving further details. There was no immediate comment from PIJ.

The recovery of Katzir’s body brings to 12 the number of bodies of hostages which the army says it has brought home from Gaza during the war. The army says 129 are still being held in Gaza, including 34 who are presumed dead.

The Hamas attack resulted in the deaths of 1,170 people in southern Israel, most of them civilians, according to Israeli figures.

Israel’s retaliatory offensive against Hamas has killed at least 33,137 people in Gaza, mostly women and children, according to the health ministry in the Hamas-run territory.

In a statement marking the conflict’s half-year mark, president Isaac Herzog said Israel is fighting a “bloody and difficult war”.

“Tomorrow at 6:29 am, we mark six months since the cruel terror attack and the horrific massacre,” Herzog said on Saturday, referring to Hamas’s 7 October attack.

“Half a year since this crime against our sisters and brothers, against our state, this crime against humanity,” said the president, whose role is largely ceremonial.