Thousands march to press Israel's government to do more to free hostages held in Gaza

© Ahmad Gharabli, AFP

Thousands of family members and supporters of some 240 hostages held in Gaza streamed into Jerusalem on Saturday, castigating Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's government over his management of the war with Hamas and pleading with the government to do more to bring their loved ones home.

As public pressure mounted, Netanyahu said Saturday that Israel's War Cabinet would meet with representatives of the families this week. “I am marching with you. The Israeli people are marching with you,” he said. “I promise, when we have something to say, we will inform you.”

The march capped a five-day trek from Tel Aviv and represented the largest protest on behalf of the hostages since they were dragged into Gaza by Hamas on Oct. 7 as part of the militants' deadly attack in southern Israel. About 1,200 people were killed in Israel on the day of the surprise Hamas assault.

Israel declared war in response, and more than 11,500 Palestinians have been killed in the past six weeks as the Israeli military conducts a punishing air and ground offensive in Gaza, where Hamas militants have ruled for the past 16 years.

Israeli leaders have set dual objectives — to crush Hamas and to bring the hostages home. But they have not made clear to families how they plan to balance the two.


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