After a five-day march, thousands of supporters and the families of Israeli hostages converged in Jerusalem on Saturday to confront the government about the situation of those kidnapped by Hamas.
Noam Alon, 25, who was holding a picture of his kidnapped fiancée Inbar, expressed the desire of the estimated 20,000 marchers—among them well-wishers who joined the procession along the main Tel Aviv-Jerusalem highway—to exert pressure on Israel’s government “to do everything they can to bring the hostages back.”
“We are expecting them to meet with us, we are expecting them to tell us how they are going to do it,” he said. “We cannot wait any longer, so we are demand(ing) them to do that now, to pay any price to bring the hostages back.”
Around 240 Israelis – ranging from babies to grandparents – are believed to be in the Gaza Strip after being taken hostage by the Islamist faction during an Oct. 7 cross-border raid on southern Israeli villages and army bases in which 1,200 people were killed.
Many relatives and friends of the missing fear they will come to harm in Israeli attacks on Gaza designed to destroy Hamas. The government says the offensive improves the chances of recovering hostages, perhaps via a mediated prisoner exchange.
But many Israelis blame their government for being blindsided by the Hamas assault.
Among those who marched to Jerusalem was centrist opposition leader Yair Lapid, who has been mostly supportive of the war but has demanded the resignation of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.