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Anti-government protests demand the release of hostages in Gaza before Israel’s Memorial Day

Anti-government protests demand the release of hostages in Gaza before Israel’s Memorial Day

Ahmed Al-Gharabli/AFP/Getty Images

Relatives of Israeli hostages held in Gaza since the October 7 attacks attend a rally to demand their release outside the Tel Aviv Museum of Art on May 11, 2024.



CNN

Protesters took to the streets of several cities across Israel on Saturday, demanding the release of all hostages held in Gaza before Israel’s Memorial Day.

They demanded the resignation of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and the holding of early elections.

Families of hostages held in Gaza also participated in anti-government protests, including in Tel Aviv, Caesarea, Rehovot, and Haifa.

The protests come as Israel prepares to commemorate Remembrance Day, which begins Sunday evening.

Many waved Israeli flags and held banners with pictures of Israeli hostages, calling on the government to return them alive to their homeland.

About 240 people were taken hostage and transported to Gaza during the Hamas attack on Israel on October 7 that also killed more than 1,200 people. Just over 100 hostages were released during a November release deal, but the Israeli military believes there are still 132 hostages being held in Gaza, 128 of whom were taken on 7 October. The army believes that only 92 of these 128 are being held in Gaza. He’s still alive.

Participants in Saturday’s protests included Yael Adar, the mother of Tamir Adar, who was kidnapped on October 7 and whose death was announced in January. She said all she wanted was for her son’s body to be returned so she could give him a proper burial.

“For 90 days, we fought for his return alive, 90 days in the hope that Tamir would return to us, to the embrace of the family – a hope that faded with the news that he was no longer alive,” Adar said during a rally. .

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Jacques Guez/AFP/Getty Images

Israeli police forces deploy during a march demanding the release of hostages held in Gaza outside the Defense Ministry headquarters in Tel Aviv, May 11, 2024.

“Since then, all we have asked is for Tamir and all the murdered hostages to be returned for burial, here in the land they loved. To give Tamir the burial he deserves. She added: “To give us closure, and to have a grave where we can be with his memory.”

Hajit Chen, the mother of Itai Chen, who was killed on October 7 and whose remains were flown to Gaza, said she wanted her son to be buried in peace.

“I have been invited to participate in many Israel Memorial Day celebrations, but the only ceremony I have to be at, with my family and in memory of my son, is a ceremony that the state did not allow me to hold.” Chen said.

“How much suffering can one endure? I address the Prime Minister of Israel, Benjamin Netanyahu: It is time to bring them all back! Live for rehabilitation and fall for a decent and proper Jewish burial,” she added.

The protests came at a time when the Al-Qassam Brigades, the military wing of the Hamas movement, announced that one of the Israeli hostages being held in Gaza had died more than a month ago.

Abu Ubaida, a spokesman for the military wing, said on the Telegram app that Nadav Popplewell, who was 51 years old when he was kidnapped, died of wounds he sustained after an Israeli airstrike hit the place where he was being held.

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Obaida said, “His health condition deteriorated and he died because he did not receive intensive medical care.”

Popplewell, who has dual British and Israeli citizenship, was kidnapped from Kibbutz Nirim on 7 October 2023. His mother, Chana Berry, was also kidnapped, but was released as part of a hostage deal on 24 November. His brother Roy was killed in October. 7.

The Israeli Prime Minister’s Office told CNN that it did not know whether Popplewell was alive or dead. The Israeli army refused to comment.

The British Foreign Office said it was seeking more information about Popplewell.

“The UK government is working with partners across the region to secure the release of hostages, including British citizens. We will continue to do everything we can to secure the release of the hostages,” the office told CNN.