Largest Israeli demonstrations since October 7: tens of thousands demand Netanyahu’s departure

Largest Israeli demonstrations since October 7: tens of thousands demand Netanyahu’s departure
Largest Israeli demonstrations since October 7: tens of thousands demand Netanyahu’s departure
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Demonstrations took place in most cities in Israel on Saturday, including Tel Aviv, Jerusalem and Haifa. On Sunday, protests were concentrated at the Knesset building, Israel’s parliament. According to AP, these were the largest protests since the start of the war in early October.

The demonstrators included many relatives of hostages who are still in Gaza six months later. They demand that an agreement be reached quickly on the return of all their approximately 130 relatives – dead or alive. The Guardian quotes Einav Zangaukar, mother of Mantan Zangaukar who is still being held in Gaza. According to her, it has become increasingly clear that Netanyahu is preventing the return with his stubborn attitude: “You are the obstacle. You are the one who stands between us and the return of our relatives.” Many demonstrators demanded Netanyahu’s resignation.

Ultra-Orthodox

Monday is a crucial day for the government: a deadline set by the Israeli Supreme Court expired last night. The Court demands that a law be introduced regulating compulsory military service for ultra-Orthodox: so far, ultra-Orthodox young people have been exempt from military service. According to Reuters, the government has requested and received an extension: it has until April 30 to present new arguments for the exemption. Thousands of Israelis, mainly army reservists, demonstrated on Sunday in the ultra-Orthodox neighborhood of Mea Sharim in Jerusalem against the exemption for Torah students.

Another ultimatum from the Court remained: the judges ordered the government to end the subsidy of Torah studies by ultra-Orthodox.

In the Mea Sharim district of Jerusalem, ultra-Orthodox Jews face demonstrators who demand that the exceptional position for ultra-Orthodox young people disappear.Image AP

Both ultimatums put Netanyahu in an extremely difficult position. Changing the exemption is an absolute breaking point in Netanyahu’s government, which consists of secular right-wing parties and ultra-right religious parties. In 2018, the conscription issue led to the fall of the cabinet. Netanyahu then managed to become prime minister again, but with the support of ultra-Orthodox parties. If the exemption for religious young people is withdrawn, these Orthodox people will leave the government and new elections will be necessary.

Bad polls

Netanyahu’s chances of becoming prime minister again appear slimmer than before. According to polls, his popularity has shrunk dramatically. The government is trying to buy time.

The Prime Minister gave a televised speech on Sunday in which he defended his policy. According to him, now is not the time for new elections, at the height of the war and “so close to victory”. According to him, elections will paralyze the country for six to eight months.

Netanyahu again emphasized in his speech that the Israeli army will enter the city of Rafah no matter what. He set two goals at the start of the war: destroy Hamas and release all hostages. Both goals have not yet been achieved and, according to the demonstrators, are even further away than ever. There are still around 130 hostages – an unknown number of whom have already died – in Gaza, and Hamas has been badly damaged, but not destroyed.

According to Netanyahu, Hamas has withdrawn to the border city of Rafah, where 1.4 million displaced Palestinians have also taken refuge. Internationally, heavy pressure is being exerted on Israel, including by its most important ally the United States, to refrain from invading Rafah, because it will result in a humanitarian disaster. Netanyahu, however, does not want to budge. Without Rafah the war is not over, he said again on Sunday.

The article is in Dutch

Tags: Largest Israeli demonstrations October tens thousands demand Netanyahus departure

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