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Families of Israelis Held by Hamas Storm Parliament, Demand Action Amid Gaza War Stalemate

Relatives of Israelis held captive in Gaza by Hamas forcefully entered a parliamentary committee session in Jerusalem, urging lawmakers to take stronger action for their release.

This event, involving about 20 relatives on Monday, highlighted growing frustration over Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s refusal to engage in a deal with Hamas amid the prolonged Gaza war, now in its fourth month.

During the incident, one woman displayed pictures of three family members abducted during the cross-border Hamas attack on October 7. Out of the 253 people seized, approximately 100 were released during a truce in November, leaving 130 still held in Gaza. The protesters, donning black T-shirts, called for immediate release, chanting, “Release them now, now, now!”

Hamas

Efforts by the US, Qatar, and Egypt to mediate between the conflicting parties appear unproductive. Netanyahu maintains that the Israeli campaign will continue until Hamas is eradicated, while the Palestinian group insists on Israel’s withdrawal and the release of thousands of Palestinians from Israeli prisons for the captives’ freedom.

The fate of the hostages, with Tel Aviv reporting 27 deaths in captivity, has become a focal point in Israel. However, relatives fear that war fatigue might diminish public attention. Demonstrations, once promoting national unity, have grown more assertive.

During the parliamentary committee disruption, lawmakers and panel chairman Moshe Gafni faced the emotionally charged crowd. Gafni emphasized the importance of redeeming captives in Judaism but discouraged quitting the coalition.

Outside official buildings, families and supporters rallied near Netanyahu’s residence, urging the government to negotiate and ensure the safe return of hostages. Some demonstrators camped outside Netanyahu’s home and the Knesset building, demanding an end to the war or a potential election to challenge the current government.

On Sunday, Netanyahu rejected Hamas’ conditions to end the war and release hostages, leading the Hostages and Missing Persons Families Forum to demand a clear commitment to safeguarding those kidnapped in October. The forum urged the prime minister to honestly share his position with the Israeli public if hostages were to be sacrificed.

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