Protest convoys around the country snarl traffic in call for early elections

Anti-government activists call out handling of war in Gaza, alleged abandonment of hostages held by Hamas; protest leader says government has broken partnership with citizens

A protest convoy on Route 2 at Rishon Lezion joins demonstrations around the country calling for early elections, May 28, 2024. (ERAN/Pro-Democracy Movement)
A protest convoy on Route 2 at Rishon Lezion joins demonstrations around the country calling for early elections, May 28, 2024. (ERAN/Pro-Democracy Movement)

Anti-government protest convoys took place around the country Tuesday, driving slowly to block traffic in their demand for early elections and voicing criticism of the government’s handling of the ongoing Israel-Hamas war.

Videos posted to social media showed dozens of cars driving together through 13 areas across the country including the Sharon, Ben Shemen, Caesarea, and Haifa, at the lowest possible legal speed.

Vehicles flew Israeli flags and yellow banners and ribbons urging the government to strike a deal to release hostages held by Hamas in the Gaza Strip.

“A country is based on two things: a partnership between a government and its citizens, and this is based on trust and mutual responsibility,” said Shikma Bressler, an anti-government protest leader, in a video posted she online before joining the convoy on Route 65.

“From the moment that trust is violated, and the government refuses to take responsibility, the expectation that citizens will continue to take part in the partnership is an expectation of someone who doesn’t understand how much spirit our people have,” she stated.

“When we do our part for the best, the government takes advantage of it to take this country to ruin. The abandonment of the hostages is not written in stone, the conduct of the war is not written in stone, and we will stop allowing this to happen,” she added.

Similar protests were a staple of so-called nationwide “days of disruptions” during protests against the government’s judicial overhaul proposals last year, when demonstrators would block roads and train stations and conduct marches across the country.

Last week, anti-government demonstrators launched a “day of disruption” to mark the start of the Knesset’s summer assembly. Protesters blocked traffic and clashed with police along the Tel Aviv-Jerusalem Highway, and rallied outside the Knesset and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s private Caesarea home.

Recent anti-government protests have largely focused on calls for the government to resign and hold early elections amid its failure to bring home the hostages captured by Hamas on October 7 and disagreements over Haredi conscription legislation.

Protesters on Tuesday also noted government corruption, in the wake of allegations that emerged last week that the office of Transportation Minister Miri Regev was rife with politicization, systematically giving preferential treatment to local officials who are Likud party power players.

“The abandonment of hostages in the Gaza Strip added to the failed management and Israel’s current political collapse brings the country’s citizens to a situation in which they are required to show leadership and take actions that will bring the mandate back to the people,” the Saving Israel protest group said in a statement.

“The absolute decay as revealed in the investigation against Regev clarifies what [Defense Minister Yoav] Gallant, and [war cabinet ministers Benny] Gantz and [Gadi] Eisenkot said: the State of Israel is governed according to personal interests and not according to the good of the state,” the statement read.

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