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Israel Hamas WarNewsIsrael

Protests, Gaza, Hezbollah: ‘All hangs by a thread’

Writer David Grossman captures the mood at Tel Aviv protests, as frustration over Gaza meets fear Hezbollah could overwhelm Israel's Iron Dome.
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Man at microphone in front of protest signs

Author David Grossman speaks during a protest against Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and the current government outside the Kirya military base in Tel Aviv, June 22, 2024. (Tomer Neuberg/Flash90/Haaretz).

Published: 25 June 2024

Last updated: 25 June 2024

Demand for an end to the war in Gaza is erupting into widespread protests across Israel, as fears increase of a catastrophic war in the north.

US officials said this week that they were afraid Hezbollah could overwhelm Israel’s Iron Dome security system, with its stockpile of an estimated 150,000 missiles supplied by Iran.

Tens of thousands of Israelis in dozens of locales participated in anti-government protests on Saturday night, demanding new elections and the return of hostages held in Gaza.

In Tel Aviv protests turned violent, three people were arrested and the Israel's Public Defender's Office condemned "widespread" excessive use of force by Israel's police against protesters.

The office released a statement on Sunday saying that the violence evident in footage taken during anti-government protests "wounds the body and soul and tramples human rights", and that it "harms every part of Israeli society and results in loss of trust in law enforcement".

Protesters have been taking to the streets every Saturday night for months against the government’s handling of the war against Hamas.

This week, David Grossman, one of Israel’s best-known authors, called on Israelis to fill the streets with demonstrations and to fight for their country, in a poem he read to protesters.

“There’s someone and something to fight for. For such a gift, from life, we will nevermore receive… Now’s the time to rise, to live. To be a people or not to be. To be people or not to be… All hangs by a thread,” he read.

Another speaker was former Shin Bet chief Yuval Diskin, who railed against Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, calling him “the worst and most failed prime minister in the history of the state”.

Diskin, who led the Shin Bet intelligence agency from 2005 until 2011, called for elections at the earliest possible opportunity. He said he had rejected requests to joint the protests until now, believing unity was the most important thing.

“But I find myself amazed, every day, by the government’s uselessness, the failed management of the war, the lie of ‘total victory,’ the total evasion of responsibility, the destruction of our strategic relations with the United States, and perhaps most of all, missing every opportunity to bring back our kidnapped brothers and sisters, who continue to languish in Hamas captivity in Gaza.”

Netanyahu said on Sunday that the “intense phase of the war with Hamas (in Gaza) is about to end,” and that the military’s focus could then shift to Israel’s northern border with Lebanon, where fighting with the Iran-backed group Hezbollah has intensified in recent weeks.

Netanyahu, however, vowed that Israel would continue operating in Gaza until the militant group Hamas was eliminated.

“It doesn’t mean that the war is going to end, but the war in its current stage is going to end in Rafah. This is true. We will continue mowing the grass later,” Netanyahu told Channel 14 Television in his first one-on-one interview with local Israeli media since October 7.

The US continues to try to promote the Biden plan for ceasefire but it is meeting resistance from Hamas and mixed messages from Israel, with Netanyahu both claiming to support the deal and continue to talk about “total victory”.

US Vice President Kamala Harris’s national security advisor Phil Gordon said this week that the idea that there would be either a ceasefire or a victory over Hamas was a false paradigm.

“A rejection of this deal would not bring about some undefined notion of total victory, but it would lead to endless conflict draining Israel’s resources, contributing to its isolation on the world stage and preventing the hostages from being reunited with their families,” Gordon said.


‘All hangs by a thread,’ David Grossman tells thousands at rally for election, hostage deal (Times of Israel)

Public Defender's office: police violence tramples on Israelis' human rights, must be stopped (Haaretz)  

‘Intense phase of war with Hamas about to end,’ focus to shift to Lebanon border, Netanyahu says (CNN)

U.S.: Hezbollah war could overwhelm Israel's Iron Dome (CNN)

US: If Israel nixes hostage deal, Hamas leader Yahya Sinwar wins (Jerusalem Post)


Israel tries to assassinate top Hamas commander in Gaza; Palestinians report over 40 dead (Haaretz)  
The German DPA news agency reports that the Hamas official targeted was Raed Saad, the head of the group's operations division, while the Israeli military said it was investigating reports of a deadly strike on Friday.

IDF says it is investigating soldiers who tied Palestinian detainee to hood of car (Times of Israel)
Military says troops acted against protocol during operation near Jenin, where troops exchanged fire with Palestinian gunmen.

State ordered to report on conditions at terror suspect detention facility in the Negev (Times of Israel)
High Court decision comes in response to petitions from several human rights groups demanding Sde Teiman be shut down over alleged abuse; state to provide response by June 30.

Smotrich recorded describing ‘mega-dramatic’ plan for civilian control over West Bank (Times of Israel)
NYT report on recording says far-right minister told settlers that he’s acting in way so world ‘won’t say that we are doing annexation here,’ asserts Netanyahu is ‘with us full on’.

Security officials concerned over eruption of West Bank violence (Ynet)
The IDF cracks down on refugee camps resulting in thousands of arrests and hundreds killed; Military hopes to keep flames contained so focus can remain on Israel's northern and Southern borders.


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