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Israelis Rally Near Netanyahu's Office, Demanding Hostage Swap Deal With Hamas

23.05.2024 04:27

Protesters take to streets after posting of video showing Hamas fighters capturing female Israeli soldiers from military base.

Hundreds of Israelis protested late Wednesday in front of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's office in West Jerusalem during the convening of the war council, demanding the release of hostages in the Gaza Strip.

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

Hamas said in a statement that "the video clip being circulated in the Israeli media is a manipulated and edited segment, and the authenticity of its content cannot be verified."

It added that "the circulation of this clip at this time comes in the context of the occupation's failed attempts to tarnish the image of our brave resistance by spreading fabricated narratives that have been proven false through various forums and media investigations."

The Israeli newspaper Haaretz reported that war council members Benny Gantz and Gadi Eizenkot and Defense Minister Yoav Gallant met with families of the hostages before it convened, but Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu did not respond to their request for a meeting.

The newspaper added that hundreds of Israelis demonstrated in front of the prime minister's office in Jerusalem, blocking the road to traffic and demanding the release of the hostages.

The protesters carried pictures of detainees and chanted slogans including "Deal now" and "Bring them all back alive," referring to 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 the conclusion of a hostage swap deal through obstinacy in the indirect negotiations with Hamas mediated by Qatar and Egypt.

Israel has launched a brutal offensive on the Gaza Strip since an Oct. 7 attack last year by the Palestinian group Hamas that killed nearly 1,200 people.

More than 35,700 Palestinians have since been killed, most of them women and children, and nearly 80,000 others injured.

Eight months into the Israeli war, vast swathes of Gaza lay in ruins amid a crippling blockade of food, clean water and medicine.

Israel is accused of genocide at the International Court of Justice, which has ordered it to ensure that its forces do not commit acts of genocide and take measures to guarantee that humanitarian assistance is provided to civilians in Gaza.

*Writing by Rania Abu Shamala -

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