Thousands of people gathered in Tel Aviv’s Rabin Square over the weekend to encourage an end to hostilities through peace negotiations between Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and the Palestinian unity government.
The protest’s organizers said that the turnout Saturday night was
as high as 10,000 people, while Israeli media said that just
“thousands” were involved in the protest, the Jerusalem Post
Participants rallied under the slogan: “Changing direction: toward peace, away from war.”
Several protesters were chanting, “Bibi go home,”
according to JPost.
The left-wing Meretz party’s leader, member of the Knesset Zehava Gal-On, called for the resignation of Netanyahu, saying he had failed to ensure peace in the south despite having the capacity and authority to act over the course of the past five years.
“You could have achieved the framework you are willing to
accept now without paying the price of 64 dead soldiers and the
deaths of civilians,” she told the crowd.
Other protesters marched under signs stating, “Jews and Arabs refuse to be enemies,” and “When there is no peace, war comes,” according to the JPost. In addition to Meretz, Hadash, Peace Now and other left-wing organizations participated in the rally.
The protest had originally been scheduled for the previous week.
However, it was postponed after its permit was revoked by the
Home Front Command and the police at a point when authorities
were trying to prevent large-scale gatherings while missiles were
still being fired and there was still a threat of Hamas rockets
falling on Tel Aviv.
In contravention of the ban, 500 people still materialized at the time for which it was originally scheduled.
Among the more high-profile marchers on Saturday night was author David Grossman, who said that a military solution was not possible in the Israeli-Palestinian dispute. “There is still a critical mass who want peace,” he said.
“Certain phenomena and processes that have become apparent
lately might transform Israel into an extremist, militant sect,
xenophobic, isolated and ostracized,” Grossman added.
Meretz activist Ofer Prag told JPost that he had attended to make sure the left was given a voice.
“We could have gone down the political path before this war started and averted 64 Israeli deaths and nearly 2,000 Palestinian ones,” he said.
On August 14, an estimated 10,000 also rallied in Tel Aviv to show support for the IDF's military campaign in Gaza, urging the government forces to stop Hamas rocket attacks on Israel once and for all.
The expiration of a five-day ceasefire loomed on Monday night.
More than 2,000 civilians and military personnel have been killed since the conflict began five weeks ago.