Protesters mass outside Israeli PM Netanyahu’s house as anger grows

Police held back protesters outside the residence of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Saturday, amid widespread anger at the failures that led to last month’s deadly attack by Hamas gunmen on communities around the Gaza Strip, Reuters reports.

Waving blue and white Israeli flags and chanting “Jail now!”, a crowd in the hundreds pushed through police barriers around Netanyahu’s residence in Jerusalem.

The protest, which coincided with a poll showing more than three quarters of Israelis believe Netanyahu should resign, underlined the growing public fury at their political and security leaders.

Netanyahu has so far not accepted personal responsibility for the failures that allowed the surprise assault which saw hundreds of Hamas gunmen storm into southern Israel on Oct 7, killing more than 1,400 people and taking at least 240 hostage.

As the initial shock has faded, public anger has grown, with many families of the hostages held in Gaza bitterly critical of the government response and calling for their relatives to be brought home.

In Tel Aviv, thousands demonstrated, waving flags and holding photographs of some of the captives in Gaza and posters with slogans like “Release the hostages now at all costs” while crowds chanted, “bring them home now”.

Ofri Bibas-Levy, whose brother, along with his four-year-old son Ariel and 10-month-old son Kfir were taken hostage by Hamas, told Reuters that she came to show support for her family.

“We don’t know where they are, we don’t know what condition they are kept in. I don’t know if Kfir is getting food, I don’t know if Ariel is getting enough food. He is a very small baby,” said Bibas-Levy.

Since the attack, Israel has launched an intense air and ground offensive in Gaza, killing more than 9,000 people, health authorities in the Hamas-run area say, and reducing large areas of the enclave to rubble.

Even before the war, Netanyahu had been a divisive figure, fighting corruption charges, which he denies, and pushing through a plan to curb the powers of the judiciary that brought hundreds of thousands to the streets to protest.

On Saturday, a poll for Israel’s Channel 13 Television found 76 percent of Israelis thought Netanyahu, now serving a record sixth term as prime minister, should resign and 64 percent saying the country should hold an election immediately after the war.

When asked who is most at fault for the attack, 44 percent of Israelis blamed Netanyahu, while 33 percent blamed the military chief of staff and senior IDF officials and 5 percent blamed the Defense Minister, according to the poll.

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