New mass protests against Netanyahu government in Israel

Status: 26.05.2024 08:39 a.m.

Thousands of people have once again taken to the streets in Israel out of dissatisfaction with Prime Minister Netanyahu’s government. Meanwhile, Israeli attacks in the Gaza Strip continue – despite international criticism.

The protests against the government of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Israel continue unabated. Thousands of demonstrators once again took to the streets in various cities on Saturday to demand Netanyahu’s resignation, early elections and an agreement on the release of the hostages held by the Islamist Hamas. They observed a minute’s silence for the dead hostages, the AFP news agency reported.

The organizers of the main rally in Tel Aviv spoke of more than 80,000 participants. According to the Times of Israel, arrests were made. Video and photo recordings showed demonstrators setting off pyrotechnics and the police using water cannons, among other things. According to the Israeli newspaper Haaretz, one person was injured.

According to Israeli media, there were also further demonstrations in Jerusalem, Haifa, Be’er Sheva and in front of Netanyahu’s private residence in Caesaria.

The demonstrators accused Netanyahu of ignoring warnings before Hamas’ unprecedented terrorist attack on October 7 in the Israeli border region. They also blamed him for the fate of the more than 100 hostages still held by Hamas.

If the government does not now reach an agreement on the release of the hostages, “Israel will ultimately be forced to end the war without the return of the hostages,” the Times of Israel quoted a relative of the abducted as saying.

New negotiations soon?

The indirect negotiations between Israel and the terrorist organization Hamas, in which Egypt, Qatar and the USA are mediating, reached a deadlock two weeks ago after several days of talks in Cairo and Doha. According to media reports, they could possibly be resumed next week “on the basis of new proposals.”

Israeli media reported that Mossad chief David Barnea had agreed with CIA director Bill Burns and Qatari Prime Minister Mohammed bin Abdulrahman al-Thani on a new framework for the stalled negotiations.

However, senior Hamas official Usama Hamdan told Al-Jazeera that Hamas had not been “informed of anything by the mediators.”

Attacks continue

Meanwhile, the attacks on Rafah in the Gaza Strip are apparently continuing despite a ruling by the International Court of Justice (ICJ). As the AFP news agency reports, citing eyewitnesses, the Israeli army bombed Rafah and Khan Yunis in the south and the city of Gaza in the north early in the morning.

On Friday, the ICJ ordered an immediate halt to the Israeli offensive in Rafah. The UN court in The Hague thereby partially granted a request from South Africa. The court explained that the offensive could contribute to living conditions that could lead to “the total or partial destruction” of the Palestinian population in the Gaza Strip.

Israel rejected the court’s assessment and did not promise a change of course in Rafah. Spain and Ireland as well as EU foreign policy chief Josep Borell called on Israel to comply with the court’s order.

Vice Chancellor Robert Habeck also sent words of warning to Israel. “Of course Israel must abide by international law. And the famine, the suffering of the Palestinian population, the attacks in the Gaza Strip are – as we are now seeing in court – incompatible with international law,” he said at a public meeting. “That means that Israel has indeed overstepped its boundaries there, and it must not do that.”

Hamas reports captured soldiers – army denies

There is confusion over Hamas claims that members have captured Israeli soldiers. A spokesman said that members attacked an Israeli army unit in a tunnel in the refugee settlement of Jabalia in the northern Gaza Strip and “killed, wounded or captured” all members. He released a video and photos that allegedly show one of the prisoners.

The Israeli army rejected Hamas’s account. There was “no incident in which a soldier was kidnapped,” the army said, without providing further details about soldiers who may have been killed or injured.

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