Clashes erupted between Israeli protesters and police in Jerusalem and Tel Aviv as demonstrators called for the resignation of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's government.
Meanwhile, Netanyahu criticized demonstrations by families of prisoners held in Gaza, deeming them "futile and only increasing the demands of Hamas."
The Israeli Broadcasting Corporation reported on Saturday that police dispersed protesters in central Jerusalem and arrested several individuals following skirmishes with Israeli forces.
In Tel Aviv, Israeli police detained numerous demonstrators in the city center, subjected hundreds to physical repression, and confiscated some protest equipment, according to the private newspaper Yedioth Ahronoth.
"Thousands of Israelis gathered in Kaplan Square, demanding the ouster of Benjamin Netanyahu's government and calling for early elections," the newspaper stated. Protesters chanted "Elections Now" and slogans urging Netanyahu's immediate dismissal.
Netanyahu Attacks Prisoner Families and Qatar
Netanyahu, in a press conference on Saturday, lambasted the demonstrations by families of prisoners detained in Gaza, labeling them as "ineffective and bolstering Hamas's demands."
"Protests by the families of the kidnapped do not help but rather increase Hamas's demands and delay their recovery," Netanyahu stated.
He mentioned that he had directed his government to enhance the development of domestic defense industries to ensure Israel's self-reliance.
"Our goal is to eliminate Hamas. We cannot allow armed forces to exist in Gaza, and the war will not end until our mission is completed," he added, noting that those doubting Israel's capabilities are in the minority.
Netanyahu also suggested that Qatar could exert pressure on Hamas, given its hosting and financial support of the movement's leaders.
"Qatar has the ability to pressurize the Palestinian movement regarding the detained prisoners," he asserted, refusing to retract his previous statements about Qatar.
Netanyahu faces ongoing criticism from the Israeli public and some politicians, even from within the war council, over the crisis of Israeli prisoners in Gaza and the lack of a viable plan to ensure their safe return to Israel.
Since October 7, 2023, the Israeli military has waged a devastating war on Gaza, resulting in 26,257 fatalities and 64,797 injuries, predominantly among children and women, according to Palestinian authorities. The United Nations describes the resulting destruction and humanitarian crisis as unprecedented.
This situation underscores the deepening divide within Israeli society and the complex geopolitical dynamics involving Gaza and its supporters, as Netanyahu's administration navigates internal dissent and international scrutiny.