Tens of thousands protest in Israel demanding Netanyahu resign – Dong-A Ilbo VRESP

The largest scale after the war… Netanyahu calls for hostage release, dismisses resignation as “additional ground war”

On the 31st of last month, a protest was held in Jerusalem, Israel, calling for the resignation of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and the release of Israeli civilian hostages held by the Palestinian armed group Hamas. Some protesters held up a composite photo of Prime Minister Netanyahu’s face and a bloody finger. Jerusalem = AP Newsis

As the war between Israel and the Palestinian armed group Hamas has entered its sixth year, large-scale anti-government protests were held throughout Israel on the 30th and 31st of last month, demanding Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s resignation and early general elections. Prime Minister Netanyahu has dismissed calls for him to step down and stuck to his intention to carry out a ground operation in Rafah, the southernmost city in the Gaza Strip, a Hamas stronghold.

According to Reuters on the 31st of last month, citizens took to the streets in various parts of Israel, including Jerusalem and Tel Aviv, to demand Prime Minister Netanyahu’s resignation and the release of Israeli civilian hostages detained by Hamas. A similar protest took place a day ago in front of Prime Minister Netanyahu’s home. The Times of Israel and others commented that tens of thousands of people gathered near the parliament building in Jerusalem on the 31st of last month, making it the largest anti-government protest since the outbreak of war.

In particular, the hostage family claimed that “the prime minister is the biggest obstacle to hostage negotiations.” He called for a new leader to be elected through early general elections and then negotiate with Hamas to return the hostages. There are currently about 130 hostages who have not been released, of whom 34 are presumed dead.

The sound of rupture within the far-right coalition led by Prime Minister Netanyahu has also grown louder. Haredi ultra-Orthodox Jews, who make up about 13.5% of the population, have been exempt from military service since the founding of the country in 1948. However, since the outbreak of war last year, public opinion is growing that they should also enlist. Prime Minister Netanyahu is pushing a bill to formalize Haredi exemption from military service in an attempt to win support from his core supporters, far-right voters. Accordingly, political parties with relatively strong secular tendencies within the coalition government are protesting.

Unlike many adult Israeli men living in the United States who returned home after the outbreak of war and volunteered to join the reserve forces, criticism is also being raised over the fact that Prime Minister Netanyahu’s eldest son Yair (33) continues to stay in Miami, Florida. This means that it is contradictory for the prime minister to continue to call for “war” while his own son does not participate in the war.

Prime Minister Netanyahu dismissed calls for his resignation on the 31st of last month, saying, “If general elections are held now, hostage negotiations will be further delayed.” He underwent hernia surgery that day. He is 75 years old and there are growing concerns about his health, having also had a pacemaker implanted in July of last year.

Reporter Lee Ji-yoon [email protected]

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