People take to streets in Israel seeking Netanyahu’s resignation

New Delhi, Apr 1: Perhaps the biggest display of public discontent in Israel’s Jerusalem since the beginning of the Israel-Hamas conflict, thousands of Israelis took to the streets highlighting the nation’s deteriorating political split.

Tens of thousands converged in Jerusalem on Sunday night, marking the largest protest against the government of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu since the conflict’s inception on October 7 last year.

The rally demanded elections and change, resonated with calls for Netanyahu’s resignation, early elections, and urgent action to secure the release of approximately 130 Israeli hostages still held in Gaza, many of whom are feared dead.

Organised in part by groups that previously spearheaded anti-government demonstrations, the protest garnered momentum with demonstrators brandishing banners emblazoned with potent messages such as “Elections now” and rallying cries of “You destroyed the country, and we will fix it.”

Protestors, in a mosaic of frustration and determination, assembled outside Israel’s parliament before a segment of the crowd attempted to block Begin Boulevard, a vital thoroughfare in Jerusalem. Amidst the clamour for change, a parallel gathering unfolded in the ultra-orthodox enclave of Mea She’arim, where demonstrators voiced opposition to the exemption of ultra-orthodox religious students from mandatory military service—an issue further inflamed by the ongoing conflict.

Israel Prime Minister, Netanyahu during a televised address preceding his surgery for a hernia, rebuffed calls for early elections, cautioning that such a move would prolong the conflict and imperil ongoing negotiations for the release of hostages.

Despite internal fractures within the coalition, Netanyahu exuded confidence in the government’s capacity to address the conscription quandary, a divisive matter that has underscored broader societal fault lines.

As the protests extended against the backdrop of Jerusalem’s streets, protesters blamed Netanyahu’s leadership for its failures in ensuring security and safeguarding Israeli lives.

Netanyahu has also rejected the US strategy supporting the Palestinian State as a component of a broader “grand bargain” aimed at reshaping the Middle East. Critics argue that his continuous opposition to President Joe Biden’s post-conflict governance plans for Gaza serves to solidify backing from Israel’s far-right faction. —a stance that has both galvanised his base and stoked resentment among critics and sections of the Israeli population.

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