Some 2,000 protesters demonstrated amid pouring rain in Tel Aviv on Saturday night in rare anti-government demonstrations since the start of the war between Israel and Hamas.
Later, many of the protesters marched to a nearby demonstration in support of the hostages held by Hamas.
For two months, protesters at weekly demonstrations to support the hostages have tried to remain apolitical because many family members of the hostages feel they must balance working with the government with pressure to bring home their loved ones.
But with the resumption of anti-government protests, politics has begun to permeate.
Since the Hamas-led attack on October 7, anti-government sentiments, once common, have largely disappeared from the streets. Organizers halted vigorous protests against the far-right government’s judicial reforms that consumed Israel for months.
Now, as the war approaches its third month, some protesters said they felt the need to resume their anti-government protests. The atmosphere at Saturday night’s anti-government protest was rife with anger as people chanted “shame” and booed any mention of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
“At first we tried to be polite, but we realized we can’t wait any longer,” said Guy Zeoof, 56, a protester from Ramat Gan. “Bibi has to go,” he added, referring to Netanyahu by his nickname.
Later, at the hostage demonstration, protesters were more moderate, but there was still an undercurrent of anger. Sharon Alony Cunio, a returned hostage, condemned the government for not doing more to bring home the remaining captives, including her husband, David.
“In recent weeks, the government has not presented any initiative of its own,” he said. “On the other hand, almost every day, only bad news comes out of Gaza about dead bodies.” In recent weeks, the Israeli military said it had mistakenly killed three of the hostages.
Still, many protesters said they were wary of politicizing the hostage crisis.
“In a parallel world, I would be at the other protest,” Dina Walker, 27, said at the hostage demonstration. “I think it is more important to show support and ensure that people return home. After that we can take care of the rest.”