1 of 4 | Israeli protesters call for the resignation of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu outside his residence in Jerusalem and the immediate release of Hamas held hostages on Saturday. Photo by Debbie Hill/ UPI | License Photo
Nov. 5 (UPI) -- Thousands of protesters have taken to the streets and upped their pressure on Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to step down for his administration's lack of readiness on Oct. 7 when a surprise attack by the Palestinian group Hamas killed thousands of Israelis, and for his handling of the hostage crisis that has followed.
Police forcibly restrained hundreds of protesters who pushed through security barriers waving blue and white Israeli flags, chanting "jail now!" outside Netanyahu's residence on Saturday.
Demonstrators gathered in American cities including New York and Washington, and also in London, Berlin, Paris, Ankara and others to call for a cease-fire amid a rising Palestinian civilian death toll.
Thousands of protesters, including friends and relatives of the Israeli hostages gathered in Tel Aviv and chanted "bring them home now."
"I expect and demand from my government, think out of the box," said Hadas Kalderon, who said five members of her family were among those who have been kidnapped.
"I find myself in hell," she added. "Every day I wake up to another day of war. A war for the life of my children."
Netanyahu has not accepted personal responsibility for any security lapses that may have led to the surprise assault during which hundreds of Hamas fighters stormed southern Israel on Oct. 7, killing more than 1,400 people and taking at least 240 captive.
Violence since Gaza's surprise attack has so far killed more than 9,400 Palestinians, most of them women and children, and reduced large areas of the area to rubble.
A recent public opinion poll shows 76 percent of Israelis think Netanyahu, now serving a record sixth term as prime minister, should resign, 64 percent reported the country should hold an election immediately after the war, and 44 percent of people polled for Israel's Channel 13 blamed Netanyahu for the current state of affairs given Israel's lack of preparedness for Hamas' surprise attacks.
U.S. President Joe Biden has called for a "humanitarian pause" in the violence to give officials time to evacuate people trying to escape the conflict. U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken confirmed that sentiment in a visit to Israel in recent days.
Families of some hostages have pressured Netanyahu to consider a prisoner swap ... an offer by Hamas to release all captives in exchange for all of its prisoners being held by Israel.
Netanyahu's administration has called the offer an insincere ploy, and has also resisted calls from the U.S. and other countries for the humanitarian pause in the fighting without receiving hostages in exchange.
Shortly after the protest rally in Captives Square in central Tel Aviv Saturday night, families and other supporters of the hostages were forced to run for safety, evading rockets launched by Gaza into the central area of the city.
There were no reports of injuries in the rocket attack, which has become a routine part of life in Tel Aviv since the war began a month ago.