Speaking before several thousand people in Tel Aviv’s Hostages Square, an organizer of the weekly rally there decries what she describes as growing partisanship surrounding the event.
“Several weeks ago we couldn’t have even imagined that hostages would become [seen as] left-wing and soldiers would become [seen as] right-wing,” says Sivan Cohen Sabag, a co-founder of the Hostages and Missing Families Forum, tonight.
“We could never have imagined that a family of hostages would be assaulted here,” she says.
Sabag is referencing an altercation last week between Einav Zangauker, mother of Matan Zangauker, who was taken hostage by Hamas from Kibbutz Nir Oz on October 7, and a passerby who was filmed shoving her and telling her that by demonstrating in front of the Kirya military headquarters in Tel Aviv she was “preventing the prime minister from fighting the war.”
Such incidents “do not represent our country, it is not our country, it is not our way,” says Cohen Sabag, who goes on to express thanks to Israeli troops fighting in Gaza, where Hamas is believed to still be holding over 100 hostages out of the 253 taken from Israel on October 7.
The Hostages and Missing Families Forum is calling on the government to “pay any price” to “bring them all back now.”
Speakers at the weekly rallies have called for accepting Hamas’s demand for a ceasefire in order to facilitate a prisoner swap. Last week, the rally took a partisan turn as speakers accused Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of preventing a deal to avoid elections.
The rally, which organizers have said is nonpartisan, takes place amid multiple partisan political rallies calling for Netanyahu’s resignation or ouster.
A number of families of hostages, some of them members of the conservative Tikvah forum, oppose making far-reaching concessions to Hamas and say that Israelis urging the government to make such concessions harms the chances of retrieving the remaining hostages.