‘We Demand Elections Now!’ – Israeli Street Protests Intensify

Israeli Prime Minister BenjaminNetanyahu. (Image: Palestine Chronicle)

By Palestine Chronicle Staff  

The protests escalated as Israeli negotiators returned on Tuesday from Egypt following talks that yielded no tangible results.

Demanding early elections and a prisoner exchange deal, thousands of Israelis took to the streets for a third straight day on Tuesday, with some protesters attempting to storm Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s home.

Protests took place in front of Israel’s parliament, the Knesset, in West Jerusalem, as well as the Israeli Ministry of Defense in Tel Aviv, reported the Anadolu news agency.

They also chanted slogans holding Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu responsible for the failure to reach a prisoner swap deal with the Palestinian Resistance group Hamas, the Israeli Yedioth Ahronoth newspaper reported, according to Anadolu.

Former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak addressed the crowd, saying “We demand elections now,” according to the newspaper.

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He reportedly noted that it is clear to everyone that the entry of Israeli troops into the southern Gaza city of Rafah will not happen for a few weeks and may take a few months, and by then, the hostages will almost all return in coffins.

Barak said that demanding elections now is an emergency call for the future.

Earlier this year, Barak told Israeli Army Radio that “30,000 citizens should besiege the Knesset for three weeks day and night,” adding that when the state is “shut down,” Netanyahu will realize that his time is over and that trust in him is “non-existent.”

The protests escalated as Israeli negotiators returned on Tuesday from Egypt following talks that yielded no tangible results.

Security Breach

In West Jerusalem, protesters breached police barriers set up on the road leading to Netanyahu’s residence, reported Anadolu.

According to the Israel Hayom news outlet, the Israel Police spokesperson said: “Hundreds of rioters tried to violently break through police barricades near the PM’s residence. One hurled a burning torch at a mounted officer. After repeated refusals to disperse, police deployed riot control measures.”

The report said that “What began as a rally outside the Knesset calling for the return of captive Israelis morphed into a fiery march to the Prime Minister’s Residence and ultimately devolved into pitched battles between protesters and police officers on horseback.”

Five protesters were arrested and a police officer was injured, according to the report.

Israel’s National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir criticized the country’s internal security service, Shin Bet, calling the breach “unacceptable”.

“Last week, I warned Shin Bet Chief Ronen Bar of disregarding the security of the Prime Minister and was rejected,” Ben-Gvir wrote on X on Tuesday.

“I demand that Shin Bet immediately wake up and take Prime Minister Netanyahu’s and his family’s security seriously,” he added. “A situation where thousands of people break into the area of ​​the Prime Minister’s house and the Shin Bet turns a blind eye is unacceptable.”

Coalition of Protesters

The protests are spearheaded by a coalition of anti-government protest movements, according to The Times of Israel, and come ahead of the Knesset going on a six-week holiday break.

This “has sparked controversy, coming as the war continues and as some 130 hostages remain held in the Strip,” said the report.

‘Burn the Country’ Threats as Israeli Police Crack Down on Protesters

Families of Israeli captives have threatened that if a prisoner exchange deal with Hamas is not reached soon, “we will burn the country.”

A previous prisoner exchange deal in November last year saw the release of 81 Israelis and 24 foreigners in exchange for 240 Palestinians, including 71 women and 169 children.

Over 32,900 Killed

Currently on trial before the International Court of Justice for genocide against Palestinians, Israel has been waging a devastating war on Gaza since October 7.

According to Gaza’s Ministry of Health, 32,975 Palestinians have been killed, and 75,577 wounded in Israel’s ongoing genocide in the enclave.

Moreover, at least 7,000 people are unaccounted for, presumed dead under the rubble of their homes throughout the Strip.

Palestinian and international organizations say that the majority of those killed and wounded are women and children.

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The Israeli aggression has also resulted in the forceful displacement of nearly two million people from all over the Gaza Strip, with the vast majority of the displaced forced into the densely crowded southern city of Rafah near the border with Egypt – in what has become Palestine’s largest mass exodus since the 1948 Nakba.

Israel says that 1,200 soldiers and civilians were killed during the Al-Aqsa Flood Operation on October 7. Israeli media published reports suggesting that many Israelis were killed on that day by ‘friendly fire’.

(PC, Anadolu)

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