Go to contents

Tens of thousands of Israelis rallied to demand Netanyahu's resignation

Tens of thousands of Israelis rallied to demand Netanyahu's resignation

Posted April. 02, 2024 08:10,   

Updated April. 02, 2024 09:57


Amid an ongoing conflict that has lasted around six months between Israel and the Palestinian militant group Hamas, widespread anti-government demonstrations erupted across Israel on Saturday and Sunday. Protesters are calling for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to step down and for early general elections to be held. Yet, Netanyahu has rejected these calls and remains steadfast in his plan to conduct a ground operation in Rafah, a city at the southern tip of the Gaza Strip and a Hamas stronghold.

Reports from Reuters and other outlets last Sunday highlighted that citizens in various Israeli cities, including Jerusalem and Tel Aviv, have been actively protesting, demanding Netanyahu's resignation and the release of Israeli civilians taken hostage by Hamas. There were similar demonstrations in front of Netanyahu's residence the previous day. According to The Times of Israel and other sources, tens of thousands of people converged near the parliamentary building in Jerusalem on Sunday, marking this as the largest anti-government protest since the conflict began.

Families of the hostages specifically have criticized the prime minister, labeling him as “a major hindrance to the negotiation efforts for the hostages' release.” They are advocating for early general elections to appoint a new leader who would negotiate with Hamas to free the hostages. At present, approximately 130 hostages remain captive, with 34 believed to be deceased.

Netanyahu is advocating for a bill to formalize a military exemption for the Haredim, aiming to consolidate support from his far-right voter base. This move has sparked opposition from more secular-oriented parties in the coalition.

However, during a press conference on Sunday, Netanyahu brushed aside demands for his resignation, arguing that “holding general elections now would only delay negotiations for the hostages.” He also reiterated his commitment to a ground offensive, stating, "We are prepared for a ground operation in Rafah." Despite international calls, notably from the United States, urging a quick ceasefire to prevent civilian casualties in Palestine, Netanyahu appears unswayed.

이지윤 기자 asap@donga.com