Relatives of Israeli hostages storm parliament
Family members of Israeli hostages being held captive by Hamas have invaded a parliamentary hearing in West Jerusalem, demanding that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu do more to secure the release of their loved ones.
A group of around 20 people pushed past security into the hearing at the Knesset on Monday, some of whom held photographs of their missing relatives, Reuters reported.
“You will not sit here while our children die,” multiple protesters shouted, as security guards held back some of the most enraged members of the crowd.
Netanyahu was not present at the meeting, but the protest came a day after demonstrators set up tents outside his private residence, demanding that he strike a deal with Hamas to secure the release of the captives still in Gaza.
Hamas militants took around 250 people hostage during their October 7 assault on Israel. Of those, 105 were freed in a Qatari-negotiated deal in November, while the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) has confirmed the deaths of 31, three of whom it admitted were killed in a friendly-fire incident. Hamas claims that more hostages have been killed by Israeli bombs, but the IDF denies this.
BREAKING: ⚡ 🇮🇱 Hostage families storm Israeli KnessetThe Knesset was suspended after families of the hostages forced their way through security.The anger and impatience towards Netanyahu is growing. Israel is incapable of either defeating Hamas or freeing the hostages.… pic.twitter.com/dXRXDauYbp— Megatron (@Megatron_ron) January 22, 2024
Israeli authorities believe that around 132 hostages remain in Gaza, a tally that counts both the living and those presumed dead. Netanyahu, however, has rejected a Hamas proposal to release the captives in exchange for an Israeli withdrawal from Gaza, the release of Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails, and guarantees that the militant group remains the governing authority in the enclave.
“I reject outright the terms of surrender of the monsters of Hamas,” Netanyahu said on Sunday. “If we accept this, we won’t be able to guarantee the safety of our citizens. We will not be able to bring evacuees home safely and the next October 7 will only be a matter of time,” he added.
Furthermore, the Israeli leader rejected the idea of Palestinian statehood, vowing that he would maintain “full Israeli security control over the entire area in the west of Jordan,” which includes both Gaza and the West Bank.
Netanyahu’s rejection of Hamas’ terms “means there is no chance for the return of the captives,” a spokesman for the militant group said on Sunday night.
Despite mounting pressure from the hostages’ families, as well as the leaders of the US and the EU, Netanyahu has not budged on his promise to continue Israel’s military operation in Gaza until “total victory” is achieved. However, the IDF has killed just 20%-30% of the group’s fighters in 14 weeks of combat, the Wall Street Journal reported on Sunday, citing American intelligence estimates. In the same period, Israeli forces have killed more than 25,000 Palestinians, around two-thirds of whom were women and children, according to the Gaza Health Ministry.