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Thousands march in Jerusalem to press Israel’s government to do more to free prisoners of war

THOUSANDS of Israelis slammed the right-wing government of Benjamin Netanyahu at a demonstration in Jerusalem on Saturday over its inability to free the prisoners of war taken by Hamas as the IDF continues is assault on Gaza.

The protest capped a five-day trek from Tel Aviv and represented the largest protest on behalf of the 240 prisoners since they were captured on October 7, during Hamas’s surprise uprising against the Israeli occupation.

Some of the families of the prisoners have said they fear that the military offensive endangers their loved ones. 

Israeli leaders, in turn, have argued that only military pressure on Hamas will lead to some hostage releases in a possible deal involving a temporary ceasefire.

The families have not rallied around a single proposal for getting their loved ones back, but pleaded for more empathy and responsiveness from the extremist government. 

Some families have criticised Israel’s war cabinet for what they described as a lack of transparency about any rescue plans.

On Saturday, the marchers carried Israeli flags and photos of the prisoners as they finished the 45-mile walk to Jerusalem and slowly converged on Mr Netanyahu’s office. 

Once there, they were joined by crowds carrying yellow balloons printed with the words “Bring them home.”

“I want you to look in my eyes and try to understand just a bit of the trauma I’m feeling,” Daria Gonen, referring to Israeli leaders, said at the rally.

Her sister, Romi Gonen, was taken prisoner by Hamas after they launched a brutal attack on a music festival near Gaza on October 7.

Israeli media has reported that the war cabinet is considering a Qatari-brokered deal to win the release of the women and children among the hostages. 

In exchange, Israel would agree to a ceasefire of several days and release several dozen of the thousands of Palestinian prisoners it is holding. 

Mr Netanyahu denied on Saturday that a deal had been struck.

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