In a powerful display of unity and demand for action, an estimated 30,000 people took to the streets of Jerusalem on Saturday to call on the government to do more in addressing the ongoing hostage crisis involving Hamas. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu highlighted the severity of the situation by referring to all members of Hamas as “dead men walking.” The crowd, comprised mainly of loved ones of the hostages, passionately expressed their frustration with the government’s failure to bring their family members home.
Organizer Yuval Haran, whose own family members were abducted during the Hamas attack on October 7th, emphasized that the journey is far from over and urged for continued efforts until each hostage is returned. The families demanded that the War Cabinet meet with them without delay and take responsibility for the safe return of their loved ones. They voiced their concerns about being left in the dark and insisted on being informed directly by the decision-makers.
Despite the emotional toll, the families remained determined and even proposed taking matters into their own hands. One mother, Orin, tearfully expressed that the pain in her heart far outweighed the physical exhaustion from the five-day march. She vowed that they would not give up on their children and would go to any lengths necessary, even walking to Gaza if needed.
The protest also saw the unexpected participation of opposition leader Yair Lapid, who has been critical of Netanyahu’s handling of the Israel-Hamas conflict. Lapid not only joined the demonstration but also called for Netanyahu’s immediate resignation. His presence signals growing dissent within the country’s political landscape regarding the government’s approach.
In a concerning update, Hamas’ armed faction spokesperson, Abu Obaida, acknowledged that they have lost contact with some of the groups responsible for guarding the hostages, leaving the current fate of the hostages uncertain. However, the spokesperson also mentioned Hamas’ willingness to release 70 hostages if a five-day truce is agreed upon.
Despite these developments, negotiations on the hostage situation have hit a standstill, according to an unnamed Israeli source. Netanyahu confirmed at a news conference that there is currently no deal in place for a hostage release. He assured that updates would be provided when there is significant progress to report.
Amidst this urgent crisis, reports emerged of a devastating incident at a UN-run school in the Jabalia refugee camp, raising further international alarm. The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) are investigating allegations that Israeli forces fired upon the facility, which was being used as a shelter for displaced families. The UN Palestinian refugee agency, UNRWA, received horrifying images of the attack, calling for an immediate halt to such violence.
As tensions intensify, the situation in Gaza City became chaotic as hundreds of patients and sheltering families attempted to evacuate the Al-Shifa hospital. The Israeli occupation army ordered the evacuation, leaving only six doctors behind to care for the most vulnerable patients. This mass evacuation attempt further reflects the dire circumstances faced by the population as the crisis escalates.
Q: What was the main demand in the Jerusalem protest?
A: The main demand in the Jerusalem protest was for the government to take immediate action to address the Hamas hostage crisis.
Q: Who participated in the protest?
A: The protest was mainly attended by the loved ones of the hostages, but it also saw the unexpected participation of opposition leader Yair Lapid.
Q: Is there any progress in negotiations for a hostage release?
A: Negotiations on the hostage situation have currently stalled, according to an unnamed Israeli source. Prime Minister Netanyahu confirmed that there is no deal in place at the moment.
Q: What was the concerning incident reported at the UN-run school in Jabalia?
A: There are allegations that Israeli forces fired upon the school, which was being used as a shelter for displaced families. The incident is currently under investigation by the IDF.
Q: What happened at the Al-Shifa hospital in Gaza City?
A: There was chaos as hundreds of patients and sheltering families attempted to evacuate the hospital due to Israeli orders. Only six doctors stayed behind to care for the most vulnerable patients.