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Tens of thousands of Israelis hit the streets in central Jerusalem on Sunday in the “largest anti-government protest” since the beginning of the October 7 war demanding the return of hostages and to hold early elections, reported news agency Associated Press. 

The deep rift in the Israeli society over the leadership of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, which was immediately bridged after October 7, has renewed, though the country still remains largely in favour of the war, the report added. 

But the war has charged their determination to unseat Netanyahu, who has been the longest-serving Prime Minister, as per a BBC report. 

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Protestors rallied in front of the Israeli Parliament lighting fires and waving Israeli flags. They also blocked a main city highway shouting Netanyahu “must go”, according to AFP. 

Police used skunk water, a foul-smelling substance fired from water canon to disperse the protestors who blocked the city’s major north-south highway, Begin Boulevard, as per BBC. 

“We believe that no hostages will come back with this government because they’re busy putting sticks in the wheels of negotiations for the hostages,” said one Boaz Atzili, whose cousin Aviv Atlizi and his wife Liat were taken as hostage on October 7. While Liat has been released, Aviv was killed and his body is in Gaza, as per the AP report. 

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“Netanyahu is only working in his private interests,” Boaz added. 

Another demonstrator, Dana Rabfogel Shor — whose distant cousin was killed in the Hamas attack — told AFP that the anger at Netanyahu over the Hamas’ October 7 attack and his handling of the country was reaching “boiling point”. 

“People are raging, they are tired, they want elections. They blame Bibi (Netanyahu) and the government, which says it is not responsible for anything,” she said.

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