War in the Middle East: New protests against Israel’s government

As of: February 25, 2024 2:30 a.m

In the evening, thousands again took to the streets in Tel Aviv against the government. Relatives of the hostages called for their release to be made the top priority. The police apparently took tough action.

By Benjamin Hammer, BR, currently Tel Aviv

A dark room, an armed man smoking nervously. An explosion outside. A baby cries in its mother’s arms. Mother and child are supposed to represent kidnapped Israeli hostages. The man with the gun is said to be a terrorist.

The audience sees the re-enacted scene with VR glasses and should be able to understand a little what the hostages are going through. The VR video is shown on the “Hostages Square” in Tel Aviv. It was produced by Shlomi Ziv’s family. The 40-year-old was working as a security guard at the Nova music festival and was kidnapped by terrorists. Liat Oriel is the man’s cousin.

People around the world don’t fully understand what the hostages are going through. We also want to reach heads of state and government. And say: Can you please empathize with what my cousin is going through? Our video is only eight minutes long. But the hostages experience this constantly.

criticism of Government attitude to hostages

The Israeli hopes that international pressure will also increase for Israel and Hamas to finally conclude an agreement. But Liat Oriel knows that they also have to do some convincing in Israel. Recently, Israel’s Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich said that the return of the hostages was not the most important thing. And Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu temporarily withheld his delegation from negotiations because Hamas’ demands were excessive.

“Something like that drives me crazy,” says Liat Oriel. This would make Israeli citizens part of a political debate. “This makes them and their safety secondary. This should be the absolute priority. This is outrageous. They are behaving like madmen.”

Netanyahu sticks to his line

Many of the hostages’ families have deep mistrust of the government. According to the accusation, Netanyahu is primarily concerned with his political survival, while the right-wing extremist ministers are concerned with fantasies of building Israeli settlements in the Gaza Strip again.

The Prime Minister defended his line on Platform X. Only a combination of military pressure and decisive negotiations would lead to the release of the hostages and the realization of all war aims. Netanyahu seems to feel vindicated, as Israeli media reports that Hamas has already given in to its demands for an agreement, which Hamas rejects.

According to media reports, it is about a six-week ceasefire and the release of around 40 Israeli hostages. To do this, Israel would have to release Palestinian prisoners, which could be rejected by the government’s right-wing extremist ministers.

Deal could mean end of government

“I’m not yet convinced that Netanyahu will make a deal,” says journalist Ben Caspit on TV Channel 12. “Because that could mean the end of the government.” Ultimately, the cards are with ministers Ben Gvir and Smotrich and if they don’t like the conditions, “Netanyahu will have to choose between the hostages and the government.”

There were two large gatherings in Tel Aviv on Saturday evening. The situation of the remaining hostages was remembered in front of the art museum. It got noticeably louder in front of the army headquarters. Thousands of Israelis called for new elections here. The emergency services used water cannons against demonstrators. According to Israeli media, there were several arrests. It was probably the largest protest of its kind since the terrorist attacks of October 7th.

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