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Mass protests in Israel – activists complain about police violence

Mass protests in Israel – activists complain about police violence
Mass protests in Israel – activists complain about police violence

In Israel, more and more people are dissatisfied with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. His war cabinet is falling apart, people are taking to the streets. And things are not easy with the allies either.

In the largest mass protests in Israel for months, tens of thousands of people demanded an end to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government and the release of hostages held in the embattled Gaza Strip. “Alive, alive – and not in body bags,” chanted demonstrators on Saturday evening in the coastal metropolis of Tel Aviv. According to local media reports, the organizers spoke of around 150,000 participants. It was the largest demonstration in Tel Aviv since the Islamist Hamas terrorist attack in Israel on October 7 last year. There were also mass protests against Netanyahu’s leadership in Jerusalem, Haifa, Beersheba and other places. People loudly demanded new elections.

Yuval Diskin, former head of the domestic intelligence service Shin Bet, condemned the government at the rally in Tel Aviv and called Netanyahu “the worst and most failed prime minister in the history of the state,” as the Times of Israel reported. Diskin accused the government of mismanaging the war, “the lie of ‘total victory,’ the total evasion of responsibility” and the “destruction of our strategic relations with the United States.” Netanyahu’s government is missing “every opportunity to return our kidnapped brothers and sisters.”

Unrest in Israel

The Wall Street Journal recently reported that the number of abductees still alive could be as low as 50. Officially, there are still around 120 hostages in Gaza. The demonstrators accused Netanyahu of bowing to the demands of his extremist coalition partners and thwarting a deal to release the hostages. Some ministers are against an agreement with the Islamists because it would also provide for a ceasefire and the release of Palestinian prisoners from Israeli prisons.

Meanwhile, Israel’s Defense Minister Joav Galant is expected to hold talks with the most important ally, the United States. He plans to meet with senior representatives of the Pentagon and the US State Department in Washington from this Sunday to Tuesday, the Jerusalem Post reported on Saturday evening. Galant’s US trip comes after Israel’s Prime Minister Netanyahu caused a new crisis in relations with the US administration of President Joe Biden with a video in which he harshly attacked the US government over a withheld arms shipment.

According to local media reports, during the mass protests against Netanyahu’s government in Tel Aviv on Saturday evening there were scuffles with the police and several people were arrested. The police minister is the right-wing extremist politician Itamar Ben-Gvir. Mounted officers tried to disperse some of the demonstrators with their horses. The police violence during the demonstrations had “exceeded all limits,” raged the new chairman of the opposition Labor Party, former Deputy Chief of General Staff Jair Golan, on Platform X. The police must not become “a tool in the hands of the corrupt and failed government,” he wrote.

Protesters commemorate 20th birthday of kidnapped soldier

Golan has been considered a hero in the country since the Hamas massacre on October 7. He went to the danger zone on his own and helped many civilians to escape from a festival that the terrorists attacked. The terrorist attack triggered the war. At the rally in Tel Aviv, many people commemorated the birthday of a kidnapped soldier who turned 20 while being held hostage on Saturday. Many displayed posters with the Israeli woman’s face on them. Her parents called for her release in a speech. Recordings by the organizers showed the mother crying during the protest in Tel Aviv.

On the day she was kidnapped from a military base, Hamas released footage showing the young Israeli woman with her hands tied and her pants covered in blood. About a month ago, a video was also released showing her and four other female soldiers frightened, injured and partly covered in blood during the kidnapping. The women were deployed as army scouts in the border area with the Gaza Strip.

For months, the mediators USA, Qatar and Egypt have been trying to persuade Israel to agree to a ceasefire and Hamas to release the abducted people in exchange for Palestinian prisoners in Israeli prisons – so far without success. Netanyahu accuses Hamas of being intransigent and blames it for the stagnation in the indirect negotiations. Hamas, for its part, sees Israel as having a duty. The Islamists’ main demands are an immediate ceasefire and a complete withdrawal of Israeli troops from the Gaza Strip.

USA withdraws aircraft carrier “Eisenhower” from Red Sea

After a deployment lasting several months in response to the Hamas attack on Israel, the USA has withdrawn the aircraft carrier “Dwight D. Eisenhower” from the Red Sea. The ship and its fleet are on their way back to the USA, the regional command Centcom announced on Saturday. The “Eisenhower” will be replaced by the aircraft carrier “Theodore Roosevelt” and its fleet, which is reportedly still in the Indo-Pacific and is due to arrive in the region next week.

The operation is part of the multinational security initiative “Operation Prosperity Guardian”. It is intended to ensure security and freedom of navigation in the Red Sea and Gulf of Aden. One of the most important shipping routes for world trade runs there. In recent months, the Houthi militia in Yemen has repeatedly attacked civilian cargo ships there. The militia says it is acting in solidarity with Hamas in Gaza.

Source: Stern

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