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Thousands of Israeli protesters gathered in the streets, demanding new elections and the release of hostages held by terrorists

A massive protest erupted in Tel Aviv on Saturday, as tens of thousands of Israelis gathered to demand new elections and the release of hostages held in Gaza. The demonstration, which was sparked by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s handling of the nearly nine-month-old war in Gaza, saw protesters waving Israeli flags and chanting slogans against the government.

The rally, organized by anti-government groups, was a stark rebuke of Netanyahu’s leadership and the right-wing coalition that has been in power since 2019. Protesters carried signs with messages such as “crime minister” and “stop the war,” and many were seen wearing masks with a red X symbolizing their opposition to the government.

Among the speakers at the rally was Yuval Diskin, a former head of Israel’s domestic Shin Bet security agency, who branded Netanyahu as Israel’s “worst prime minister.” Diskin, who had previously refrained from entering politics, accused the government of being “useless” and “failed” in its management of the war.

Many protesters are frustrated with the government’s handling of the conflict, which has seen hundreds of Israeli civilians killed and thousands more displaced. They accuse the government of prolonging the war and putting the country’s security and hostages at risk. “There will be no future for them if we don’t go out and get rid of the horrible government,” said Shai Erel, a 66-year-old contractor, who expressed his concern for his grandchild’s future.

The protesters also criticized the members of the Knesset, calling them “rats” who are more interested in serving their own interests than working for the benefit of the country. The rally was attended by thousands of people from across Israel, including families of hostages being held in Gaza. Many protesters laid down on the ground covered in red paint to symbolize the death of democracy under Netanyahu’s leadership.

The event was one of the largest protests in recent years, with over 150,000 people attending, according to estimates from anti-government groups. The protest was also supported by many Israeli celebrities and public figures, who called for Netanyahu’s resignation and new elections.

The conflict in Gaza has had a devastating impact on both sides, with Hamas militants seizing 251 hostages on October 7, of whom Israel believes 116 remain in Gaza. In response to Hamas’s attack on Israel, Israel launched an offensive that has killed at least 37,551 people, mostly civilians, according to the health ministry in the Hamas-ruled territory.

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