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Thousands attend rally for hostages, protest against government in Tel Aviv

Hostage families say they ‘want hostages back today, not in coffin’

Families of the Israelis held kidnapped by Hamas terrorists in Gaza protest for their release, in Jerusalem, March 2, 2024. (Photo: Chaim Goldberg/Flash90)

Several thousand protesters attended rallies in Tel Aviv on Saturday evening for a second week to demand a hostage deal and protest against the coalition government. 

The anti-government demonstrators arrived at the end of the Sabbath on Saturday evening, with many holding signs calling for early elections. 

At the end of the demonstration, which was authorized by the police, some of the protesters attempted to block traffic by marching south on Begin Road, trying to integrate into the parallel protest of the families of the hostages. The protesters from the hostage families had blocked the entrance from Begin Road to the Kirya military headquarters, calling for a deal to release the 134 abductees held in Gaza. 

Rauma Kedem, who lost her daughter, son-in-law and three grandchildren in the Oct. 7 massacre by Hamas terrorists, took part in blocking the road and shouted: "What shall we say? They want the abductees now, today – not in coffins.” 

A leader from the Elections Now protest group, Moran Michel, blasted the government in her speech at the Kaplan demonstration. 

“We are fighting for the peace of the people and the state, and they are in the war for the peace of the coalition - again trying to divide, this time between bereaved families and families of abductees, and the entire nation. The eternal people are not afraid of a long road.” 

Later, protesters also blocked the Ayalon Highway, which runs through Tel Aviv. 

Seven of the anti-government protesters were arrested on suspicion of disturbing the peace. 

One of the demonstrators was filmed climbing onto the hood of a vehicle while the driver continued to advance. Police said they are investigating the incident. 

“The Israel Police will allow the exercise of the freedom of protest but will not allow disturbances of public order that harm the body or harm the freedom of movement and may endanger the safety of the public,” the police spokesman said. 

After several hours, all roads that were blocked during the protest were reopened. The police said a number of protesters who blocked the Azrieli intersection and Begin Street were arrested for violating pre-determined conditions, and 18 traffic disturbance tickets were issued. 

The demonstrations took place in the shadow of Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant's announcement this past week that he would not submit the Draft Law to the Knesset for approval without the consent of all the coalition parties.

The demonstrations also came after the High Court of Justice heard petitions against the government's decision to not recruit yeshiva students in the IDF, despite the expiration of the Draft Law. 

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

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