Protesters block major highways as they call for elections, hostage deal

Demonstrators briefly prevent traffic flow on Ayalon Highway and routes 2 and 4, before removal by police

Protesters block Ayalon Highway with banner reading 'Enough of this destructive government' in Tel Aviv, July 4, 2024. (Aviv Atlas)
Protesters block Ayalon Highway with banner reading 'Enough of this destructive government' in Tel Aviv, July 4, 2024. (Aviv Atlas)

Demonstrators demanding elections and a hostage release deal blocked three major highways Thursday morning, causing traffic jams.

A small group of protesters blocked the Ayalon Highway in Tel Aviv during rush hour while a second group prevented traffic flow on Route 4 near Even Yehuda and a third blocked Route 2 between Tel Aviv and Haifa.

The demonstrators carried banners and burned tires, calling for a national strike to pressure the government into calling an early election.

The banners featured slogans such as “Enough of the nightmare! Elections, deal, sanity,” “Enough of the destructive government,” and “Elections now.”

“Israel needs a responsible and sane government that will guarantee a better future for the State of Israel. We must stop the neglect,” the protesters said.

“The hostages have been languishing in captivity in Gaza for nine months; the north is destroyed, abandoned, and bombarded; the economy is collapsing, international isolation is growing, and Israel’s government continues to ensure its political survival at the expense of Israel’s citizens.”

Police officers stand next to activists on the Ayalon Highway in Tel Aviv, after the activists blocked the road for several minutes as part of a protest against the government and for the release of Israelis held hostage by Hamas terrorists in Gaza, July 4, 2024. (Avshalom Sassoni/Flash90)

Police cleared the protesters from the Ayalon Highway shortly after they arrived, allowing traffic to flow freely. Videos posted on social media appeared to show police officers handing out fines to protesters.

Hamas submitted its latest offer for a hostage deal on Wednesday evening, which Israel said it would evaluate. Months of halting negotiations have yet to produce results as Israel and Hamas struggle to come to terms.

Meanwhile, 116 hostages abducted by Hamas on October 7 remain in Gaza — may of them believed dead.

The Hostages and Missing Families Forum has held weekly Saturday night protests around the country together with other protest groups for months, calling on the government to reach a hostage deal with Hamas.

Protests have also grown demanding the government set new elections following the disaster of October 7.

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