JERUSALEM (Reuters) – Israeli police blocked protesters outside the residence of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Saturday amid widespread anger over failures that led to last month’s deadly attack by Hamas militants on towns across the Gaza Strip.
Hundreds waved blue and white Israeli flags and chanted, “Imprisoned now!” They stormed police barriers around Netanyahu’s residence in Jerusalem.
The protest, which coincided with an opinion poll showing that more than three-quarters of Israelis believe Netanyahu should resign, highlights growing popular anger toward their political and security leaders.
Netanyahu has yet to accept personal responsibility for the failures that allowed the surprise attack that saw hundreds of Hamas gunmen storm southern Israel on October 7, killing more than 1,400 people and taking at least 240 hostage.
As the initial shock wore off, public anger grew, with many families of hostages being held in Gaza sharply criticizing the government’s response and demanding that their relatives be returned to their homes.
In Tel Aviv, thousands demonstrated, waving flags and carrying pictures of some of the prisoners in Gaza and banners bearing slogans such as “Release the hostages now at any cost,” while crowds chanted, “Send them home now.”
Ofri Bibas Levy, whose brother, four-year-old son Ariel, and 10-month-old son Kfir were detained by Hamas, told Reuters she had come to show support for her family.
“We don’t know where they are, we don’t know what condition they are being held in. I don’t know if Kfir is getting food, I don’t know if Ariel is getting enough to eat. He is so small.” Child,” said Pippas Levy.
Since the attack, Israel has launched an intense air and ground assault on Gaza, killing more than 9,000 people, health authorities in the Hamas-run territory say, and turning large areas of the Strip into rubble.
Even before the war, Netanyahu was a divisive figure, fighting corruption charges, which he denies, and pushing a plan to limit the powers of the judiciary, drawing hundreds of thousands into the streets to protest.
A poll conducted by Israeli TV Channel 13 on Saturday showed that 76% of Israelis believe that Netanyahu, who is now serving a record sixth term as prime minister, should resign, while 64% said the country should hold elections directly after the war.
When asked who was most responsible for the attack, 44% of Israelis blamed Netanyahu, while 33% blamed the Chief of Staff and senior Israeli army officials, and 5% blamed the Defense Minister, according to the poll.
Emily Rose reports. Edited by Ross Russell and Emilia Sithole-Matarise
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