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Israeli protesters block highways as they demand a ceasefire and the removal of Netanyahu

ISRAELIS opposed to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu blocked highways across the country today to mark nine months since the Hamas attack that prompted the invasion of Gaza.

The demonstrators, who were kicking off a week of action, demanded a ceasefire so that around 120 hostages still being held by Hamas can be returned home. 

They also called on the far-right prime minister to step down.

The protests coincided with international mediators renewing efforts to broker a deal, with Hamas appearing to have dropped a key demand at the weekend for an Israeli commitment to end the war, according to Egyptian and Hamas officials. 

Hamas and its allies launched a surprise cross-border attack on October 7, during which some 1,200 people were killed and 250 others taken hostage. Around 100 hostages were released as part of a November ceasefire deal in return for several hundred Palestinians from Israeli jails.

Israel’s subsequent invasion of Gaza has since killed over 38,000 Palestinians, according to the Gaza Strip’s Health Ministry.

Today’ Day of Disruption in Israel began at 6.29am, the moment that Hamas fighters launched the first rockets towards Israel last October. Protesters blocked main roads and demonstrated outside of the homes of Israeli MPs.

Near the border with Gaza, others released 1,500 black and yellow balloons to symbolise those who were killed or abducted.

Hannah Golan said that she had come to protest against the “devastating abandonment of our communities by our government.” She added: “It’s nine months today, to this black day, and still nobody in our government takes responsibility.”

A statement by many families of the hostages said: “For the first time in many months, we feel hopeful.

“Netanyahu, we have seen how you repeatedly thwart deals in real time. Don’t you dare break our hearts again.”

The prime minister has insisted that his forces will press on until his goals of destroying Hamas and bringing all hostages home have been achieved, though his own military chiefs say the former is impossible.

Meanwhile, fighting in Gaza continued, with nine Palestinians reported dead in Israeli strikes overnight and into the early hours of today.

Six Palestinians were killed in central Gaza when a strike hit a house in the town of Zawaida, according to the al-Aqsa Martyrs hospital. 

Another Israeli air strike reportedly hit a house west of Gaza City, killing another three people, early today.

The day before, the Gaza Health Ministry said that an Israeli air strike had hit school-turned-shelter in the Nuseirat refugee camp, killing at least 16 people and wounding 50 or more. 

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