Families of Hostages, Anti-Government Protesters Call on New Israeli Leadership

WASHINGTON, D.C. – In a few days, it will mark six months since Hamas attacked Israel. Thousands of protesters took to the streets in Israel over the weekend, protesting the Israeli government, calling for new elections. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is facing some of the most significant pressure from home and abroad. 

Netanyahu has a long, complicated and at many times unpopular standing, a new group of people are joining in with these anti-government protesters and are also pushing for new leadership.   

Before the October 7th attack from Hamas, Netanyahu was already facing domestic pushback after being hit with corruption charges and attempting an overhaul of the judicial system, which ultimately was blocked. International affairs experts said most of the Israeli people feel the October 7th attack from Hamas was a failure by the Israeli government. They took to the streets, pressing for a new election. Experts said for the first time in these protests, many families of the hostages joined these anti-government protesters calling on new leadership. International affairs experts said the merging of these groups is significant.  

“A large number of, although not all of, a large number of hostage families have expressed they’ve become so frustrated with Netanyahu and their belief he is not doing everything that he can to free the hostages,” said Ned Lazarus, George Washington University Teaching Associate Professor. “And that in fact he fears making a deal with Hamas will be the end, will lead to the end of his government and then to elections which then he will be a private citizen who has three corruption charges pending.” 

Netanyahu has fired back at these calls for new elections. He said now is not the time to hold new elections while the government is at war. He even said it’s outrageous to think he’s not doing all he can to release the hostages.   

The Prime Minister is also facing pressure abroad. President Biden has said some of Israeli’s military operations were “over the top” and Israel needs to be more mindful of the innocent civilians in Gaza when conducting these operations. A couple of weeks ago, New York Senator Chuck Schumer (D- NY), who is the highest ranking Jewish American in US government, said Netanyahu was a major obstacle to peace and called on new leadership in Israel.