Mass Israeli protests accuse Netanyahu of ‘torpedoing’ ceasefire and hostage release deals
People protest against Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's government in Tel Aviv, Israel, Saturday, May 4, 2024. | Ariel Schalit / AP

TEL AVIV—With an exceptionally large turnout, protests against the far-right Netanyahu government took place across Israel’s major cities on Saturday, May 4. Demonstrators demanded the government negotiate a hostage deal, early elections, and the end of the war in Gaza.

Tens of thousands of protesters took to the streets of Tel Aviv, Haifa, Jerusalem, and Beersheva Saturday night. Other demonstrations were held in Kfar Sava, Caesarea, Nahariya, Herzliya, Eilat, Carmiel, Rehovot, Modi’in, and Raanana. Five people were arrested during the demonstrations in Tel-Aviv, Jerusalem, and Haifa; they accused police of using excessive force.

The rallies, by now a weekly affair, took place hours after a “senior Israeli official” issued anonymous statements to the press denying reports that Israel would commit to ending the war in Gaza in exchange for the hostages’ release.

The comments, dictated by Netanyahu, added fuel to protesters’ fury over what they allege is the premier’s refusal to reach a deal aimed at rescuing over 130 hostages and remains of captives, instead preferring to preserve the political support of his racist coalition partners, who insist that Israel push ahead with plans to invade the southern Gaza city of Rafah.

In Tel Aviv, there were separate demonstrations; one calling for elections and another against the war held by activists of the “Block against occupation” (among them Hadash and Communist Party of Israel members) at Kaplan Street and another held at the Hostage Families Square, next to the Tel Aviv Museum of Art. A smaller rally, involving families of hostages, also took place near the Israeli army headquarters, known as “the Kirya,” at Begin Road.

The demonstration at Begin Road featured strong statements from relatives of the hostages directed against Netanyahu. The mother of hostage Matan Tzangauker, Einav, accused him of “torpedoing the deal.”

“This is the 211th day that our families are in hell in Gaza and there is now a deal on the table. Hamas has signaled that it agrees to it, but Netanyahu is initiating another move to torpedo the deal,” Einav said.

“It’s a crime, he abandons them to their deaths. End the war, bring back the hostages first,” she said, accusing him of “committing a crime against his people.” After marching throughout the heart of the city, protesters staged a sit-in lasting over an hour on Begin Road and then blocked Ayalon Highway.

In Jerusalem, carrying posters reading “Stop the War” and chanting for an immediate deal with Hamas to free the hostages, marchers initially set out together from the main protest hub of Paris Square but split off into several groups heading in different directions throughout the city center as police rushed to contain the crowds.

One group managed to block the city’s light rail on Jaffa Street, while another came to a halt outside the YMCA, after police formed a human barrier in front of the unauthorized march. Protesters later recongregated in Paris Square, clashing with police as they attempted unsuccessfully to obstruct a major traffic intersection.

Zo Haderekh

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Zo HaDerekh
Zo HaDerekh

Zo HaDerekh (This Is The Way) is the Communist Party of Israel's Hebrew-language newspaper.