Tens of thousands of Israelis rally against the Netanyahu government in the largest protests since October 7

Tens of thousands of Israelis rally against the Netanyahu government in the largest protests since October 7
  • PublishedApril 1, 2024

Tens of thousands of people have demonstrated against Benjamin Netanyahu’s government in Jerusalem, calling for new elections and a ceasefire to return the remaining hostages held by the Hamas militant group in Gaza.

Gaza’s Health Ministry said that at least 32,782 Palestinians have been killed since the start of the war, as humanitarian officials warn of an impending famine if Israel does not allow far more aid to cross into Gaza by road.

An Israeli delegation arrived in Egypt’s capital Cairo for a new round of peace talks, mediated by Egypt and Qatar.

Israeli air strike hits tent camp at hospital

Two men carrying an injured person on a sheet surrounded by people watching.
Reports are four people have been killed after a strike hit a hospital tent in Deir al-Balah.(AP Photo: Abdel Kareem Hana)

An Israeli air strike has hit a tent camp outside a Gaza hospital on Sunday, killing four Palestinians and wounding 15 others, including journalists, the BBC and Reuters report.

Thousands of people have been sheltering at the Al-Aqsa hospital in Deir al-Balah in central Gaza. 

The Israeli military said it struck a command centre of the Islamic Jihad militant group in the hospital’s courtyard, killing a senior member. 

“The command centre and terrorists were struck precisely … the Al-Aqsa hospital building was not damaged and its functioning was not affected,” an Israeli military spokesperson said.

Israel’s military also said it killed and detained hundreds of Hamas and Islamic Jihad gunmen during a raid at Gaza’s main hospital, Al-Shifa in Gaza City.

Israel accuses Hamas and other militant groups of operating in and around medical facilities, something Hamas and medical staff deny.

Tens of thousands of Israelis rally against Netanyahu government

Tens of thousands of people demonstrated in Jerusalem on Sunday against Benjamin Netanyahu’s government and exemptions granted to ultra-Orthodox Jewish men from military service.

The protesters urged the government to reach a ceasefire deal to free dozens of hostages held by the Hamas militant group in Gaza and called for a new election to replace the government.

Israel’s N12 News said the demonstration appeared to be the largest since the war began.

At a news conference in Jerusalem, Mr Netanyahu said that holding an election at the height of war, when he said Israel was so close to victory, would paralyse the country for months.

His cabinet has faced widespread criticism over the security failure of the Hamas attack on southern Israel in which 1,200 people were killed and more than 250 taken hostage to Gaza.

“This government is a complete and utter failure,” said 74-year-old Nurit Robinson, at the rally.

“They will lead us into the abyss.”

Israel’s war in Gaza has aggravated a longstanding source of societal friction that is unsettling Mr Netanyahu’s coalition government — exemptions granted to ultra-Orthodox Jewish seminary students from service in the country’s conscript military.

Around 600 soldiers have been killed so far since the Hamas attack of October 7 and the ensuing war, the military’s highest casualty toll in years.

A crowd of protesters wave Israeli flags with one person at the forefront lights a flare
The protesters called for a new election to replace the Israeli government.(Reuters: Ronen Zvulun)

With a March 31 deadline looming for the government to come up with legislation to resolve a decades-long stand-off over the issue, Mr Netanyahu filed a last-minute application to the Supreme Court last week for a 30-day deferment.

The Supreme Court gave government officials until April 30 to submit additional arguments, but it also ordered a suspension of state funding for seminary students who would be liable for conscription from Monday.

Hunger grows in Gaza as death toll nears 33,000

Gaza’s Health Ministry said on Sunday that at least 32,782 Palestinians have been killed since the start of the war.

The ministry’s count does not differentiate between civilians and fighters, but it has said that women and children make up around two-thirds of those killed.

Israel says over one-third of the dead are militants, though it has not provided evidence, and it blames Hamas for civilian casualties because the group operates in residential areas.

The United Nations and its partners warn that famine could occur in devastated, largely isolated northern Gaza.

Humanitarian officials say deliveries by sea and air are not enough and that Israel must allow far more aid by road.

Using the road network would be the most efficient, fastest and safest way of delivering aid to Gaza, UNICEF global spokesperson James Elder told ABC News from Gaza.

“Any aid is useful, but we must be clear on this — a ship has got about the equivalent of 12 or 13 trucks of aid. There are hundreds and hundreds of trucks on the other side of the border in Egypt,” he said.

“If we’re going to turn around this man-made, imminent famine it’s going to be done by the right decisions and that’s going to be roads.”

Border crossing points for aid deliveries are also needed in the north of Gaza, as well as a renewed ceasefire to deliver more aid and release the remaining hostages, Mr Elder said.

“This is a place where people are just literally holding on, bombardments are every night,” he said.

Israeli PM has surgery as peace talks resume

An older man with white hair wearing a suit with a blue tie gestures as he stands behind two microphones.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will have surgery for a hernia. (Reuters: Ronen Zvulun)

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will have surgery on Sunday for a hernia. 

His office confirmed his doctors discovered the hernia during a routine examination. 

Israeli Justice Minister Yariv Levin will serve as acting prime minister.

Before his surgery, Mr Netanyahu gave a press conference where he once again reiterated Israel won’t declare victory over Hamas until it carries out its planned offensive in the southern city of Rafah.

The United States has warned against Israel entering Rafah, where more than a million Palestinian refugees are sheltering.

Mr Netanyahu said he would return to work “very soon” after his surgery.

The news of Mr Netanyahu’s surgery coincides with an Israeli delegation arriving in Egypt’s capital Cairo for a new round of peace talks, mediated by Egypt and Qatar.

Hamas members are not present, with an official telling Reuters the group would wait to hear from mediators on whether a new Israeli offer was on the table.

Hamas wants to see a withdrawal of Israeli forces, something Israel has so far ruled out. 

SOURCE: ABCNEWS

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