Thousands of Israelis rally in Tel Aviv demanding return of captives

Thousands of Israelis rally in Tel Aviv demanding return of captives

Israeli opposition accuses Netanyahu of hindering reaching prisoner swap deal with Hamas for his own political survival

By Ahmed Asmar

ANKARA (AA) - Thousands of Israelis, including families of hostages being held in Gaza, rallied in Tel Aviv on Monday to demand that the government reach a prisoner swap deal with the Hamas group.

Police were heavily deployed in the area, triggering clashes between protesters and law enforcement officers, the Haaretz daily reported

Einav Zangauker, whose son Matan is being held in Gaza, addressed the rally, according to the Israeli Ynet news website.

"Netanyahu, you choose. It's either Ben Gvir and Smotrich -- or my son. It's very simple; either an extreme right government or the hostages at home. Now you decide, prime minister. We want to see you make a brave decision," she said.

Zangauker was referring to National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir and Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich, who oppose reaching a prisoner swap deal that stops Israel’s war on Gaza.

The Israeli opposition as well as families of the hostages accuse Netanyahu of hindering reaching a prisoner swap deal with Hamas for his own political survival.

Egypt confirmed Monday that there is a new proposal for a truce in the blockaded Gaza Strip.

"There is a proposal on the table to reach a truce in Gaza,” Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry said during a meeting of the World Economic Forum in Saudi Arabia.

Indirect talks between Israel and Hamas are taking place in both Cairo and Doha aimed at reaching a deal that includes a prisoner swap, under which the Israeli captives would be released in exchange for the release of Palestinians from Israeli jails.

Tel Aviv believes that over 130 Israelis are being held in Gaza, while Israel is holding around 9,100 Palestinians in its prisons.

Israel has waged a deadly military offensive on Gaza since an Oct. 7 cross-border attack by Hamas which killed nearly 1,200 people.

Nearly 34,500 Palestinians have since been killed and more than 77,600 others injured amid mass destruction and shortages of necessities.

The Israeli war has pushed 85% of Gaza’s population into internal displacement amid acute shortages of food, clean water and medicine, while 60% of the enclave's infrastructure has been damaged or destroyed, according to the UN.

Israel stands accused of genocide at the International Court of Justice (ICJ), which in January issued an interim ruling that ordered Tel Aviv to stop genocidal acts and take measures to guarantee that humanitarian assistance is provided to civilians in Gaza.

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