Hundreds Protest in Jerusalem Demanding Hostage Release

JERUSALEM — Hundreds of Israelis protested late Wednesday in front of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office in West Jerusalem during a war council meeting, demanding the release of hostages held in the Gaza Strip.

Protests also erupted in several Israeli cities after a video emerged earlier in the day showing Hamas fighters capturing female Israeli soldiers at a military base in the Nahal Oz settlement near the Gaza Strip on October 7 last year.

Hamas issued a statement claiming the video was “manipulated and edited” and that its authenticity could not be verified. They accused Israeli authorities of spreading “fabricated narratives” to tarnish the image of their resistance.

According to Haaretz, war council members Benny Gantz, Gadi Eizenkot, and Defense Minister Yoav Gallant met with families of the hostages before the meeting, but Prime Minister Netanyahu did not respond to their request for a meeting.

Hundreds of Israelis demonstrated in front of the prime minister’s office in Jerusalem, blocking the road and demanding the hostages’ release. Protesters carried pictures of detainees and chanted slogans such as “Deal now” and “Bring them all back alive,” urging an immediate deal with Hamas.

In Tel Aviv, protesters blocked the northbound Ayalon Highway, calling for the government’s dismissal and early elections. The families of the Israeli hostages accuse Netanyahu’s government of obstructing a hostage swap deal through obstinacy in the indirect negotiations with Hamas, mediated by Qatar and Egypt.

Israel has launched a severe offensive on the Gaza Strip since an October 7 attack last year by Hamas that killed nearly 1,200 people. Since then, over 35,700 Palestinians, mostly women and children, have been killed, and nearly 80,000 others injured. The conflict has left vast areas of Gaza in ruins, with a crippling blockade preventing access to essential supplies.

Israel faces accusations of genocide at the International Court of Justice, which has ordered it to prevent acts of genocide and ensure humanitarian assistance to Gaza’s civilians.–News Desk