‘March of Rage’: Protesters in Tel Aviv, elsewhere urge implementation of hostage deal

Demonstrators light a bonfire on city’s Begin Street, chant names of hostages; rallies said held in 75 locations

Demonstrators calling for the release of Israeli hostages held in the Gaza Strip march in Tel Aviv, June 5, 2024. (Itai Ron/Flash90)
Demonstrators calling for the release of Israeli hostages held in the Gaza Strip march in Tel Aviv, June 5, 2024. (Itai Ron/Flash90)

Thousands attended a protest in Tel Aviv on Wednesday, dubbed the “March of Rage,” calling for a hostage deal and an end to the war in Gaza, as other rallies were held in dozens of locations around the country.

The protest came amid pressure on Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his government to finalize a hostage release and ceasefire deal put forward by Israel and revealed by US President Joe Biden late last week.

Netanyahu has asserted there are differences between the offer the war cabinet approved and Biden’s version, a notion rejected by Washington. Far-right coalition parties have threatened to bolt the government if the deal, as outlined by Biden, is implemented.

A large group of protesters held a sign proclaiming in Hebrew that “Fighting doesn’t bring back hostages, only a deal will save lives,” while others held up posters and signs with the faces of the hostages emblazoned on them.

Demonstrators blocked Begin Street and lit a bonfire on the road — which police extinguished later on — while chanting the names of every hostage still held by the Palestinian terror group Hamas.

Demonstrations for the release of hostages, organized by an anti-government protest group called “The Women’s Protest,” were held in 75 locations throughout Israel, Channel 12 news reported.

“This week we saw the deadly consequences – literally – of the government’s procrastination and squandering of countless opportunities for a deal,” said a statement by the organization, referring to the IDF’s announcement Monday that four hostages, who had previously been seen alive in Gaza in Hamas propaganda videos, had died in captivity.

“This time it is closer than ever, so do the right thing already,” the statement continued. “The people in the streets are demanding: Sign the Netanyahu deal presented by President Biden now. Fighting does not bring back hostages; only a deal will save lives.”

The war began on October 7, when thousands of Hamas terrorists infiltrated Israel, killing some 1,200 people and kidnapping 251, mostly civilians.

It is believed that 120 of the hostages abducted by Hamas on October 7 remain in Gaza — not all of them alive — after 105 civilians were released from Hamas captivity during a weeklong truce in late November, and four hostages were released prior to that.

Three hostages have been rescued by troops alive, and the bodies of 19 hostages have also been recovered, including three mistakenly killed by the military. The IDF has confirmed the deaths of 41 of those still held by Hamas, citing new intelligence and findings obtained by troops operating in Gaza.

One more person is listed as missing since October 7, and their fate is still unknown.

Hamas is also holding two Israeli civilians who entered the Strip in 2014 and 2015, as well as the bodies of two IDF soldiers who were killed in 2014.

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