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Netanyahu hits back at critics amid renewed anti-government protests led by several hostage families

PM rejects accusations he doesn’t care for hostages, claims new elections would cripple the nation

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at a press briefing, March 31, 2024 (Photo: Screenshot)

Amid a renewed wave of protests against the government, now being led by several hostage families, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu strongly hit back at several points of criticism being leveled against him.

At a press briefing on Sunday evening, which took place as tens of thousands demonstrated against Netanyahu in Jerusalem and Tel Aviv, Netanyahu declared: “Whoever says that I am not doing everything to return our hostages – is mistaken and is misleading others.”

“Whoever knows the truth and still repeats this lie is causing unnecessary pain to the hostages' families.,” he stressed.

The prime minister said that Hamas was hardening its position while Israel was ready to make concessions:

“Hamas is demanding the cancellation of the corridor and the unsupervised return of Gazans – including Hamas terrorists – to the northern Strip."

“These demands by Hamas have security ramifications that I will not detail here. The claim that if we agree to more and more concessions every two days, that this will lead to a deal, is the opposite of the truth. Such an approach in the negotiations will not bring release closer but push it further away."

“The test of the results is not in our seeing that we are making efforts to reach a deal, but in achieving release, in the actual return of our hostages back home,” he added.

After the latest round of negotiations with Hamas broke down last week, the Israeli team was ordered to return home from Qatar after the terrorist organization rejected Israel’s latest proposal, which included significant concessions on several points.

Netanyahu also directly responded to increasing calls for his resignation and new elections.

“It would paralyze negotiations for freeing our hostages and would bring an end to the war before achieving its goals,” he said, “and the first who welcome this is Hamas, and that says everything.”

“I am committed to returning all our abductees. I won’t leave anyone behind,” he reiterated.

The newly united protest movements on Sunday evening kicked off a four-day protest in front of the Knesset building, with several tens of thousands of protesters in attendance.

Some hours earlier, a group of demonstrators affiliated with the Brothers in Arms movement, one of the groups that led the protests against the judicial reform and the government before Oct. 7, marched through the ultra-Orthodox (Haredi) neighborhood of Mea Shearim in Jerusalem.

After calling on the ultra-Orthodox to enlist in the IDF, clashes broke out between protesters and some residents, with water and eggs being thrown at the protesters.

The Prime Minister’s briefing came shortly before he was scheduled to undergo a hernia surgery later in the evening. Because he will be operated under full anesthesia, Justice Minister and Deputy Prime Minister Yariv Levin will act in his stead, the Prime Minister’s Office announced.

The All Israel News Staff is a team of journalists in Israel.

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