Thousands of demonstrators gathered outside Netanyahu’s home in Caesarea, as well as in Jerusalem and Tel Aviv, last night, to demand that the Israeli government accept a political settlement of the conflict in Gaza to release Israelis held hostage by Hamas that would also include a cessation of hostilities. The rallies, organized by the Hostage and Missing Families Forum, featured speakers who demanded an end to the fighting in Gaza and an exchange with Hamas for the hostages’ return, reported the Times of Israel. Speakers at the rallies warned that if a deal is not made right now to release the hostages they will be coming home in coffins.
Addressing Netanyahu and the government outside Netanyahu’s home, Carmit Palty Katzir, whose mother was held hostage but released during the truce in November, said: “Their blood is on your hands. Their lives are your responsibility. You abandoned them on October 7, you continue to abandon them now. With every day that passes, they will return home in coffins.”
“You have two options: either make a deal, or leave the house and say ‘Carmit, I choose to sacrifice your brother’s life because the defeat of Hamas is more important to me.’ They tell us that they are doing everything they can, but that’s not true, you are lying to us. They only do one thing—military pressure, and their military pressure kills abductees,” she said.
According to the Times of Israel, the protest in Caesarea came after Hebrew media reports said Netanyahu unilaterally decided Jan. 17 to toughen guidelines set recently by the government for a potential deal to release the remaining hostages held by Hamas, angering fellow members of the war cabinet.
As Jan. 21 marked 100 days since the beginning of the war and the hostages’ abduction, the war cabinet was reportedly split on the parameters it would accept for a hostage deal. War Cabinet observer Gadi Eisenkot was pushing for a long truce in exchange for the hostages’ freedom, which his National Unity party leader Benny Gantz supported, but Netanyahu and Defense Minister Yoav Gallant were strongly opposed.