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Israeli protesters hold mass in Jerusalem to call for elections

Thousands of Israelis took to the streets of Jerusalem on Monday to call for elections and the immediate return of hostages held in Gaza in a protest that followed Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s recent decision to dissolve the cabinet. his wars.

The protest outside the Knesset, Israel’s Parliament, highlighted the competing pressures the Israeli prime minister is under from conflicting elements of Israeli society.

Last week, two relatively moderate members resigned from the emergency war cabinet that Netanyahu formed after the October 7 Hamas-led attack on Israel, citing differences in how to wage war against Hamas in Gaza. Far-right members of Mr. Netanyahu’s coalition had called on him to appoint them to the war cabinet, but on Sunday, according to Israeli officials, the prime minister informed ministers at a cabinet meeting more broadly that he would instead disband the agency.

In the crowd before the Knesset on Monday were Yair Lapid, leader of the opposition in the National Assembly, videos posted on social networks show. Some marchers carried banners declaring that they were “leading the country for the next day”, referring to the end of the war in Gaza.

An Israeli police statement said police helped facilitate the protest near the Knesset and that no arrests were immediately reported there.

However, the confrontations appeared to become more tense when some protesters suddenly marched to Netanyahu’s home in Jerusalem, breaching police barricades. Anti-government activists regularly gathered there throughout the war.

Activists chanted “You are the leader, you must be responsible” in front of the prime minister’s palace. Photos show some of them gathered around a fire. Water cannons were fired and at least nine people were arrested. Israeli police said in a statement that some protesters attacked officers, leaving some of them with minor injuries.

Israeli police said they will “continue to allow freedom of expression and legal demonstrations but will not allow violations of public order and riots,” noting the fire.

This week’s protests by anti-government activists are unrelated to the weekly Saturday night protests in Tel-Aviv and organized by the Forum of Hostages and Missing Families, represents relatives of hostages held in Gaza. That group held a separate conference in Sderot on Monday about efforts to bring the hostages home.

Anti-government activists are planning another protest before the Knesset on Tuesday.


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