Hundreds of thousands of Israelis hit streets to demand hostage deal

By David Brummer


JERUSALEM – As the date ticks over into tenth month of the war that Hamas started with its murderous rampage through towns and kibbutzim of southern Israel on October 7, hundreds of thousands of Israelis are taking to the streets today to pressure the government to make a ceasefire deal.

Anti-government groups announced a “day of disruption” Sunday, to demand from the current government it increase its efforts to secure the release of the remaining 116 hostages, eight of whom are U.S. citizens, although it is known that three of those are no longer alive. Protesters have warned Saturday night’s weekly rally in Tel Aviv, which last night drew according to some estimates some 100,000 people, would initiate a “week of resistance.”

The day of disruption started at 6:29 a.m. local time – the exact time Hamas’ onslaught began – at Kibbutz Or HaNer (Candlelight) which lies in Israel’s south, less than 10 miles from the Gaza border. The day will feature rallies and protests at key intersections across the country, including Highways 1, 2, 4, 5, and 6.

Highway 1 connects Israel’s capital, Jerusalem, with Tel Aviv. Highway 2 runs north-south along Israel’s Mediterranean coastline; Highway 4 stretches from Rosh Hanikra in the north to the Gaza border in the south, inland and parallel to Highway 2; and Highway 6, also known as the Trans-Israel Highway. The potential for creating gridlock is great, and it’s likely those not protesting will simply stay away from Israel’s main road arteries for the duration of the action.

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Private companies and organizations have said they will permit their employees to work remotely and/or take part in the protests, as part of growing signs there is increasing impatience with the length of the war and the fate of the hostages. The powerful Histadrut, the Israeli Labor Union, is also likely to officially join the calls for an end to the war, as well as the calling of new elections.

Anti-government protesters rallied in the morning outside the homes of several lawmakers and ministers, including those of Defense Minister Yoav Gallant, Foreign Minister Israel Katz, Knesset Speaker Amir Ohana, Economy Minister Nir Barkat, Transportation Minister Miri Regev, Agriculture Minister Avi Dichter and Negev and Galilee Minister Yitzhak Wasserlauf.

At Gallant’s home in Moshav Amikam, protesters shouted: “Total failure,” lampooning the government’s touted “total victory” in Gaza, according to the Times of Israel.

One thing that should be noted – in stark contradiction to the protests that have taken place across the United States and countless cities across the Western world – is that the overwhelming majority of protesters carry Israeli flags. They are not arguing for an end to the Zionist project but they are loudly emphasizing an alternative vision of what it should be.

The day is set to end with a march from Jerusalem’s Sacher Park, the largest public open space in the city, and which abuts the Knesset (Israel Parliament) complex, toward the Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s house about a mile away. The official prime minister’s residence a short distance away from Netanyahu’s home, is undergoing extensive renovations, which started under former prime minister Naftali Bennett’s premiership, the approval for which predated his elevation to the post.

Pregnancies of returning hostages?

As both the war and the hostages enter their tenth month of fighting and captivity respectively, heightened attention has fallen on the plight of the young women, in particular, that Hamas holds.

A question that has long been whispered about – and which to be fair does get publicly aired relatively frequently – is the possibility, even probability – that some of the young women who were taken hostage might either be pregnant or have already given birth. Despite the protestations of anti-Israel wonks such as Pink Floyd’s Roger Waters that “there were no systematic rapes on October 7,” Hamas filmed themselves committing these heinous acts and posting them to the internet in real time. It is practically unthinkable – and we have the video of them overrunning the army base and taking the women hostages captive to prove it – that these young women were not taken to be used both as sexual play things, and also specifically for impregnation.

The issue resurfaced after the publication of an article in the latest edition of the Israel Medical Association’s in-house magazine. The authors – Dr. Lea Shelef from the School of Social Work at Sapir College and psychiatrist Dr. Gil Salzman from Geha Hospital – noted that rape has been used as a weapon of war in several previous conflicts, including the 2014 war in Iraq and Syria, as well as those in Yugoslavia and Rwanda.

The article explores a number of different and extremely difficult topics, ranging from the potential for the women to be suffering from mental illness, including anxiety, depression, dissociative disorders, sexual dysfunction, alcohol and drug abuse, and suicide attempts. The risk of developing post traumatic stress disorder is also many times more likely in rape survivors or even if captives witnessed the rapes of other women. The Israeli medical system is attempting to prepare for “every scenario,” including that there may be some women who want to keep the child, even though it resulted from rape.

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