protests, israel protests, palestine protests

Representational image of clashes between protesters and police | (Photo: Reuters)

Clashes broke out between Israeli police and protesters after thousands of people gathered in Tel Aviv to demonstrate against the government and demand the return of people held hostage by Hamas in Gaza.

Meanwhile, a small US military ship and a strip of docking area washed up on a beach near the southern Israeli city of Ashdod, not far from a US-built pier that the Israeli military said was delivering humanitarian aid to the Palestinian territory.

There were also reports of Israeli bombing in northern and central Gaza on Saturday.

Some protesters in Tel Aviv carried photos of female soldiers who appeared in a video earlier this week shortly after they were kidnapped during a Hamas attack on Israel on October 7, which triggered the war between Israel and Hamas. Some held banners that read Stop the War and Help. They called on the government to reach a deal to release dozens of hostages who are still in captivity.

The protesters also demanded the resignation of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and called for fresh elections.

We all saw the video, we couldn’t stay at home after the government released all these people, said Hilit Sagi of the women’s protest group Calling for the Return of All Hostages.

After this attack, differences have deepened among Israelis over Netanyahu’s attitude towards the war against Hamas. About 1,200 people were killed in this attack and 250 others were taken hostage. Israel says that about 100 hostages are still in Gaza and the bodies of about 30 people are lying there.

Basically they are not doing enough to get the hostages back, whether with military force, or with hostage deals, or with negotiations. Nothing is being done, said Snir Dahan, the uncle of hostage Carmel Gat, who is still imprisoned in Gaza.

Earlier this week, the bodies of three killed hostages were recovered from Gaza, the Israeli military said on Friday. The military said they were killed on the day of the attack and their bodies were taken to Gaza. The announcement comes less than a week after the military said it had found the bodies of three other Israeli hostages killed on October 7.

About half of the 250 hostages held by Hamas and other militants have been released, most of them in exchange for Palestinian prisoners taken by Israel during a week-long ceasefire in November.

Netanyahu’s government is under growing pressure domestically and abroad to stop the fighting and deliver humanitarian aid to the region, home to 2.3 million Palestinians, about 80 percent of whom are displaced.

This week, three European countries announced they would recognise a Palestinian state, and the International Criminal Court’s chief prosecutor requested arrest warrants for Hamas officials as well as Israeli leaders.

On Friday, the International Court of Justice ordered Israel to end its military offensive in the southern Gaza city of Rafah and open the nearby border to allow vital humanitarian aid to flow in. The UN’s top court also said Israel must allow war crimes investigators to enter Gaza.

However, the judges declined to order a complete ceasefire across the Palestinian territory, and it is unlikely that Israel will comply with the court’s ruling. South Africa has accused Israel of committing genocide against Palestinians during the war in Gaza, which Israel strongly denies.

“We were hoping the war would end,” said Islam Abu Qamar, who moved to Rafah from Gaza City following Israel’s ground operation after a Hamas attack in October.

Over the past two weeks, more than one million Palestinians have fled Rafah as Israeli forces push deeper into the city. The United Nations and relief groups say Israel’s capture of the Rafah border crossing this month, a major transit point for fuel and supplies to Gaza, has virtually collapsed the aid operation.

Israel says it must attack Rafah to destroy the last Hamas stronghold. Egypt said it had agreed to send UN humanitarian aid trucks through the Kerem Shalom border crossing, Israel’s main entry point into southern Gaza. But it is unclear whether the trucks will be able to enter, as fighting is still raging in Rafah.

Israel said aid was arriving in northern Gaza and the Palestinian territory via a US-built ferry. On Saturday, a small US military boat and a bar of docking area washed up on a beach near the southern Israeli city of Ashdod.

The US Central Command said four of its ships supporting the humanitarian aid mission were affected by rough seas, with two anchored near a pier off the Gaza coast and the other two in Israel.

US officials said there were no reports of casualties and that the United States was working with Israeli forces to recover the ships.

U.S. officials expect that at maximum capacity, the ferry could deliver the equivalent of 150 trucks of aid to Gaza each day. That’s a fraction of the 600 truckloads of food, emergency nutrition treatment and other supplies that USAID says are needed daily to bring people in Gaza back from the brink of famine and address the humanitarian crisis sparked by the seven-month-old Israel-Hamas war.

Israeli bombing continued on Saturday and attacks were reported in northern and central Gaza. Witnesses said people were killed in attacks on the cities of Jabalia and Nuseirat.

More than 35,000 Palestinians have been killed in the war, according to the Health Ministry, although the ministry does not distinguish between combatants and civilians.

(Only the headline and picture of this report may have been reworked by Business Standard staff; the rest of the content is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

first published: 26 May 2024 | 8:07 am First

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