World

Protesters urge Benjamin Netanyahu to quit and call for hostages deal

Hamas over the weekend appeared to have dropped a key demand for an Israeli commitment to end the war.

Demonstrators march with Israeli flags during a protest marking nine months since the start of the war and calling for the release of hostages held in the Gaza Strip by the Hamas militant group, in Tel Aviv, Israel (Leo Correa/AP)
Demonstrators march with Israeli flags during a protest marking nine months since the start of the war and calling for the release of hostages held in the Gaza Strip by the Hamas militant group, in Tel Aviv, Israel (Leo Correa/AP) (Leo Correa/AP)

Israeli protesters blocked roads across the country, calling on Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to step down and pushing for a ceasefire that could bring back the hostages held by Hamas.

The demonstrations on Sunday, marking nine months since the war in Gaza started, come as international mediators have renewed efforts to broker a deal.

“Any deal will allow Israel to return and fight until all the goals of the war are achieved,” Mr Netanyahu said in a statement on Sunday that was likely to deepen Hamas’s concerns about the proposal.

Hamas over the weekend appeared to have dropped a key demand for an Israeli commitment to end the war, according to Egyptian and Hamas officials.

The war, triggered by the Palestinian militant group following a cross-border attack on October 7, saw 1,200 people killed and 250 others taken hostage.

A retaliatory Israeli air and ground offensive has killed over 38,000 Palestinians, according to the territory’s Health Ministry, which does not distinguish between combatants and civilians in its count.

Sunday’s Day Of Disruption started at 6.29 AM, the moment that Hamas militants launched the first rockets toward Israel in October.

Protesters blocked main roads and demonstrated outside of the homes of members of Israel’s parliament.

Near the border with Gaza, Israeli protestors released 1,500 black and yellow balloons to symbolise those who were killed and abducted.

The Eviatar outpost is seen in the Israeli-occupied West Bank (Ohad Zwigenberg/AP)
The Eviatar outpost is seen in the Israeli-occupied West Bank (Ohad Zwigenberg/AP) (Ohad Zwigenberg/AP)

Hannah Golan said she came to protest the “devastating abandonment of our communities by our government”.

She added: “It’s nine months today, to this black day, and still nobody in our government takes responsibility.”

About 120 hostages remain captive after more than 100 hostages were released as part of a November ceasefire deal.

Israel has already concluded that more than 40 of the remaining hostages are dead, and fears spread the number may grow as the war drags on.

The Israeli prime minister had previously said while he was open to pausing the war as part of a hostage deal, Israel would press on until it reached its goals of destroying Hamas’ military and governing capabilities and bringing home all those held captive by Hamas.

Meanwhile, Israeli airstrikes overnight and into Sunday meanwhile killed at least 13 Palestinians, including the undersecretary of labour in the largely dismantled Hamas-run government.

Ihab al-Ghussein was among four people killed in a strike on a school-turned-shelter in Gaza City, according to the Civil Defence, a first responders group.

Six Palestinians were killed in central Gaza after a strike hit a house in the town of Zawaida, according to the al-Aqsa Martyrs Hospital.

Another Israeli airstrike early Sunday hit a house west of Gaza City, killing another three people, the strip’s Hamas-linked civil defence said.

The Gaza Health Ministry said on Saturday an Israeli airstrike killed at least 16 people and wounded at least 50 others in a school-turned-shelter in the Nuseirat refugee camp.

The Israeli military said they were targeting Hamas militants and had taken “numerous steps” to reduce civilian casualties.

Also Sunday morning, the Lebanese militant group Hezbollah said it launched dozens of projectiles toward northern Israel in the north, targeting areas more than 20 miles from the border, deeper than most launches.

A 28-year-old Israeli man was seriously wounded in Kfar Zeitim, a small town near the city of Tiberias, Israel’s national rescue service reported.

Another attack near the border wounded three people, one of them seriously, according to the Galilee Medical Centre. Israeli media reported that the critically wounded individual was an American citizen. There was no immediate confirmation from the army.

The barrage came after the Israeli military said in a statement an airstrike targeted a car and killed an engineer in Hezbollah’s air defence unit on Saturday.

On Sunday, Israel issued new evacuation orders for parts of Gaza City, which was heavily bombed and largely emptied early in the war.

The military separately announced that one of its officers was killed in battle in the southern Gaza town of Rafah, bringing the total number of Israeli soldiers killed to 680 since the start of the war.