In Jerusalem, a group of approximately 20 relatives of Israelis held hostage in Gaza by Hamas disrupted the Knesset Finance Committee session on Monday, demanding more decisive action from lawmakers to secure the release of their loved ones. This incident highlighted the escalating frustration over Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s refusal to engage in a deal with Hamas, especially as the conflict in Gaza extends into its fourth month. One woman among the protesters emotionally displayed pictures of three family members who were among the 253 individuals captured during the cross-border Hamas attack on October 7, the event that prompted a significant Israeli military operation in the enclave.
While around 100 hostages were released during a week-long truce in November, approximately 130 remain in captivity in Gaza. Despite mediation efforts by the US, Qatar, and Egypt, tensions persist, with Netanyahu maintaining that Israel will continue its campaign until Hamas is dismantled, while Hamas insists on an Israeli withdrawal and the release of thousands of Palestinian prisoners.
The fate of the hostages, including the reported deaths of 27 in captivity, has captured the attention of Israel, but there are concerns among the relatives that the intensity of public focus may wane due to war fatigue. The protest within the Knesset Finance Committee prompted an unusual scene, with parliament ushers refraining from ejecting the demonstrators. Panel chairman Moshe Gafni temporarily halted the economic briefing to address the urgent matter, emphasising the importance of redeeming captives but cautioning against quitting the coalition. Outside official buildings, families and supporters of the hostages continue to rally, urging the government to engage in negotiations and bring about the safe return of those still held in Gaza.