|“Netanyahu hasn’t participated in a single funeral, has not visited any shivas, has not called any bereaved families. So we’ll come to him,” reads an announcement from Ya’akov Godo and Maoz Inon, who lost family members to the Hamas massacre on October 7. They are calling for “Bereaved families, families of the hostages and citizens who love Israel” to join them outside the Knesset on Tuesday night.
The message was disseminated by Or-ly Barlev, a journalist and activist who has been one of the prominent leaders of the pro-democracy protest movement. With the deadly attack last month, and with the declaration of war, the broader protest movements against the Netanyahu government’s judicial overhaul have largely shifted toward volunteering to help the home front. But another group has emerged as both leaders and a rallying point in opposition to the government: the families of people kidnapped by Hamas.
Throughout the week, they gather outside of the Kirya, which houses the Defense Ministry and military headquarters, bearing yellow ribbons and pictures of their loved ones. Several nights a week, they hold rallies in which they pray together, sing together, deliver speeches and make noise. “Bring megaphones and drums, together we’ll let the whole world hear the cries of the families,” reads the daily message. Some have even taken to sleeping at the protest camp.
And for the second week in a row, thousands of people attended demonstrations across the country on Saturday night, calling on the government to bring the over 240 hostages home. In Tel Aviv, Gal Hirsch, Netanyahu’s pick to lead the effort to return the captives, visited the families’ encampment, where he was greeted with calls of “Shame!” and “Disgrace!” by some of those present. Thousands of people demonstrated outside the Tel Aviv Museum of Art, also in shouting distance from the Defense Ministry.
Outside of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Jerusalem home, protesters were met by mounted police and water cannons – a sight once common at the pro-democracy protests, which now seem worlds away. Police had declared the demonstration illegal, calling it “a political protest against the government and its policies, which became a riot.” Three people, including a prominent pro-democracy protester, were arrested for breaking through the police barricades to get closer to Netanyahu’s residence.
About 200 people protested outside of Netanyahu’s Caesarea home. “There’s no more doubt, Netanyahu is guilty in this disaster. Because of him, we’re paying a terrible price in blood,” the organizers wrote, ending with a call: “Remove him from office now!”
One month on, the protest movement is rising again. This time, it is powered not by fear of what will happen if the government gets its way, but by the rage of mothers and fathers who will go to the ends of the earth to find their stolen children, of daughters and sons made orphans before their eyes, of sisters and brothers who never got to say their last goodbyes. It does not seem to be a political stance to rally around our neighbors who have lost everything. But the fact that the government sees it as such shows that perhaps they are feeling a bit more guilty than they let on.
Disclaimer: A month after Hamas attack, rage of victims' families recharges anti-Netanyahu protests - Views expressed by writers in this section are their own and do not necessarily reflect Latheefarook.com point-of-view