Protests Against Netanyahu Intensify in Israel

( – Being shrouded in controversy is nothing new for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. The scandals surrounding him date back to the 1990s, when he was accused of influencing peddling. In 2016, he was criticized for spending state funds. In 2019, he was indicted on charges of fraud, bribery, and breach of trust. Now, he’s at the center of controversy again with the Israel-Hamas war that’s killed tens of thousands of people and shows no signs of abating. It’s getting so bad, some of his own citizens have gathered in protest.

Protests Outside Parliament

The weekend was a busy one for Israelis who are fed up with the war on Gaza. On Saturday, March 30, thousands gathered in Tel Aviv demanding officials negotiate to get the hostages back. More than 240 were taken by Hamas on October 7, and while the militant group released 105, there are still 130 unaccounted for and some, citizens fear, may be dead.

The following day, on Sunday, thousands gathered outside Parliament in Jerusalem, demanding early elections and Netanyahu’s “immediate removal.” Rather than go home and return, many set up a tent camp as a temporary home, in what was a planned four-day protest against Netanyahu and the Israeli government.

Reporters were among the masses, trying to get quotes from demonstrators. According to The New York Times, 47-year-old Haggai Schwartz said he was camping out because he believes there are “too many issues” with the current government. He said their “first responsibility is for the security of its citizens,” an obligation that they “completely failed” to achieve.

Sowing Division

While the government is of the mind that it’s important to eradicate Hamas and then rebuild Gaza, citizens believe the first priority should be securing the safety of the hostages. War is only spurring on the naysayers, who insist Netanyahu and other state officials are prioritizing the conflict over the hostages’ families.

The Sunday protest was broken up by authorities, but that didn’t deter protestors. Many have committed to demonstrating until at least Wednesday when the lawmakers take their spring recess.

Then, there’s the issue of division within the government itself. The Left and Right briefly united to tackle the crisis, but that is now wearing thin. The Left is calling for more focus on the hostages and the Right is upset that the country’s ultra-Orthodox community is exempt from mandatory military service.

On the outskirts looking in, the brutality of the war is having a global effect. Even Israel’s most staunch supporters have begun questioning whether the Jewish state is going too far.

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