Protesters chant: 'You're the leader, you're guilty'

Thousands rally against government outside Netanyahu’s Caesarea home

Protests also held in Jerusalem, Tel Aviv amid ‘week of disruption’ demanding elections over government’s handling of fighting in north, south, ‘shameful failure’ to free hostages

Protesters outside Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's private residence in Caesarea hold Israeli flags and signs with names of northern communities damaged by fires due to Hezbollah rocket and drone attacks, June 20, 2024. (Pro-Democracy Movement/Amos Gil)
Protesters outside Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's private residence in Caesarea hold Israeli flags and signs with names of northern communities damaged by fires due to Hezbollah rocket and drone attacks, June 20, 2024. (Pro-Democracy Movement/Amos Gil)

Thousands of protesters gathered outside Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s private residence in Caesarea on Thursday evening in a call for early elections, while smaller crowds gathered near the premier’s home in Jerusalem and at the Israel Defense Forces’s Kirya base in Tel Aviv.

The main rally in Caesarea was held to demand that the government “immediately set a date for elections in light of the neglect of the south and the north and its shameful failure to return the hostages,” according to protest organizers.

Tens of thousands of Israelis remain displaced from border communities in the north and south of the country since Hamas’s October 7 massacre sparked the ongoing war in Gaza and Hezbollah began launching attacks from Lebanon the following day.

There were large traffic jams along the Route 2 coastal highway and at the entrance to Caesarea, according to Hebrew media reports, with protesters still flooding in to join the demonstration.

The protests came on the fifth consecutive day of what protest groups have called a “week of disruption” aimed at replacing the government.

Protesters in Caesarea held signs with the names of northern border communities that have seen raging blazes in recent weeks as a result of rockets and drones launched by Hezbollah terrorists in Lebanon.

Demonstrators protest calling for the release of Israeli hostages held in the Gaza Strip outside Hakirya Base in Tel Aviv, June 20, 2024. (Avshalom Sassoni/Flash90)

Videos posted to social media showed protesters walking single file along the coastal cliff at sunset, waving Israeli flags.

Chants of “You destroyed, we’ll fix it,” and “You’re the leader, you’re guilty” could be heard outside Netanyahu’s Caesarea residence, while in Jerusalem protesters chanted, “All of them! Now!” in a call for the government to close a deal to free the remaining hostages kidnapped by Hamas on October 7.

Police did not announce any arrests, though earlier in the day, a 71-year-old man was arrested after allegedly sawing off a lock on a gate to Netanyahu’s home and replacing it with another lock, authorities said.

Netanyahu has repeatedly said elections should not be held while the war in Gaza is still ongoing. The next general elections are formally scheduled for October 2026.

In Tel Aviv, protesters and relatives of Hamas captives held placards with the photos of hostages outside the IDF headquarters, with some blocking Begin Street, according to accounts posted on social media.

Demonstrators call for the release of hostages held by terrorists in the Gaza Strip outside the IDF’s Kirya base in Tel Aviv, June 20, 2024. (Avshalom Sassoni/Flash90)

The week kicked off with protesters blocking several major highways and interchanges across the country on Sunday. On Monday and Tuesday, tens of thousands of anti-government protesters demonstrated outside the Knesset in Jerusalem.

In Jerusalem, police set up security barriers and parked cars and trucks around the prime minister’s residence ahead of the Thursday protest. On Monday, violent clashes broke out between police and protesters when some participants of the mass anti-government demonstration marched to Netanyahu’s house, with at least three people requiring hospitalization.

Protesters call for early elections and for the release of the hostages held by terror groups in Gaza outside Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s residence in Jerusalem, June 20, 2024. (Pro-Democracy Movement/Marcelo Sznaidman)

Earlier on Thursday, protesters blocked Route 4 near Kfar Saba, burning tires and holding a large banner that read, “We’ve lost faith. Elections now.”

A smaller demonstration was also held in Hod Hasharon outside of the home of Education Minister Yoav Kisch’s house, with protesters chanting “Shame” over reports that he held a barbecue shortly after Hamas’s October 7 massacre in southern Israel. The minister has flatly denied the allegations.

Anti-government protesters block Route 4 near Kfar Saba, calling for early elections, June 20, 2024. (Pro-Democracy Movement/Barak Dor)

More protests around the country are planned for Saturday night, according to organizers.

The war in Gaza erupted after Hamas’s October 7 massacre, which saw some 3,000 terrorists burst across the border into Israel by land, air and sea, killing some 1,200 people and seizing 251 hostages, mostly civilians, many amid acts of brutality and sexual assault.

It is believed that 116 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. Seven 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 has been listed as missing since October 7, and their fate is still unknown.

Hamas has also been 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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