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Thousands of Israeli protesters are demanding an immediate prisoner swap deal with Hamas

AA / Jerusalem / Zein Khalil

Thousands of Israelis rallied in front of the Knesset building (Israel’s parliament) in West Jerusalem and the Defense Ministry in Tel Aviv for the third day in a row on Tuesday evening to demand early elections and an immediate deal on Israel’s liberation. Prisoners in Gaza.

Protesters gathered outside the Knesset, including several family members of Israeli prisoners, chanted slogans accusing Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of failing to broker a prisoner exchange deal, Israeli newspaper Yedioth Ahronoth reported.

Protesters held banners reading “Deal Now” and “Save Israel from you (Netanyahu)”.

The protests escalated after the return of an Israeli negotiating delegation from the Egyptian capital Cairo on Tuesday, following a series of talks aimed at a prisoner exchange deal and a ceasefire between Tel Aviv and the Palestinian movement Hamas in the Gaza Strip. However, the efforts did not yield any tangible results.

In a protest speech, former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak (in power from 1999 to 2001) said: “We demand that elections be held now.”

“We are angry. At the end of the day, it is clear to everyone that entry into the Rafah will take place only after a few weeks, and it may take several months, and by then almost all kidnapped women will be back in coffins,” he raged.

Barak also added that “those who abandoned the prisoners on October 7 are ready to sacrifice them.”

The former prime minister believed that even if the release of the detainees meant a cease-fire, it should have happened, “but if Israel submits to whoever rules it (Netanyahu), the prisoners may not return.”

Barak also explained that “calling for elections now is not a punishment for failure, nor for waging war. It is an urgent call to the future.”

“We are facing more difficult combat tests than we have experienced. We also have (the task of) restoring containment. This cannot be done by a government and a leader who has completely lost the public’s trust. We must pass these tests. With the government that will be elected, I believe that the people will make a decision,” he said.

He added: “We have to strike and stop the economy, the Histadrut (Confederation of Israeli Labor Unions) and the local authorities will have to paralyze the state.”

For her part, Einav Zangauker, the mother of Matan, who is imprisoned in Gaza, strongly attacked Netanyahu, accusing him of leading a campaign against the prisoners’ families.

Zangauker addressed Netanyahu: “I suggest you listen carefully to my words. You are the Pharaoh who gave us the death blow of the first born. You failed and the blood of 1400 dead and 240 kidnapped is on your hands.

“Because of you, my son Matan was kidnapped and tortured there. It’s because of you and your fault,” he accused, adding: “You (Netanyahu) are leading a campaign against me, against the families of the hostages, you turned against us. You call us ‘traitors.’ , when you are a traitor, a traitor to your people, to your voters, to the State of Israel, and you are an obstacle to an agreement (on a prisoner exchange).”

Zangauker insulted the prime minister, saying: “We will continue to persecute you, Netanyahu. the return of my son), who has neither day nor night, neither will you.”

In the same context, hundreds of people organized a demonstration in front of the Israeli Ministry of Defense building in Tel Aviv (center).

The protesters, most of whom were families of prisoners, chanted slogans such as “Free them all”, “Deal now” and “Bring them back to us now”, Yedioth. Ahronoth newspaper reported.

Qatar, Egypt and the United States continue to push for a prisoner exchange deal and a second cease-fire between Israel and Hamas. The first agreement went into effect within a week until early December 2023 and resulted in a prisoner exchange and limited aid to the Gaza Strip.

Tel Aviv holds at least 9,100 Palestinian prisoners in its jails, and an estimated 134 Israeli prisoners in Gaza, 70 of whom have been killed in Israeli attacks by Hamas.

Since October 7, Israel has been carrying out deadly military operations in the Gaza Strip, causing tens of thousands of civilians, mostly children and women, in addition to unprecedented humanitarian disaster and destruction. The massive infrastructure that led to the appearance of Tel Aviv. For accusations of “genocide” by the International Court of Justice.

* Translated from Arabic by Munir Benuri.

Source: AA

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