JERUSALEM, Israel — Thousands of demonstrators gathered on the street outside Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office on Saturday evening to demand that the Israeli government ensure the return of the more than 200 hostages taken by Hamas.
Many, including the families of some of the hostages, had marched for five days from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, braving rain and rocket attacks, and sleeping in tents, to demonstrate their determination to pursue the safe return of their loved ones from Gaza.
“These aren’t just pictures; these aren’t just faces; these aren’t just names. They’re our hearts,” said Yuval Haran, whose mother, Shoshan, was kidnapped.
A recent Times of Israel profile noted that she has devoted her life to helping African farmers:
Haran is the founder of Fair Planet, an internationally acclaimed farming project that over the last decade has enabled tens of thousands of previously impoverished farmers to earn a good living while providing an estimated million Africans with a reliable source of food. The project has been growing steadily in Ethiopia, Tanzania and Rwanda and has the potential to expand exponentially to many more millions suffering from hunger. Now, with Haran being held hostage, it — like her life — is suddenly in jeopardy.
Some of the families met with Benny Gantz, an opposition leader who led the Blue and White party into an emergency government of national unity. But they demanded to meet with Netanyahu as well.
“You can’t run a war if you don’t have the courage to look the families of hostages in the face who just want their relatives back,” one of the speakers said.
Tens of thousands of people had joined the march at various points along the way, including at this major intersection Thursday:Joel Pollak
Netanyahu has said the return of the hostages is one of the war’s two major goals, along with the destruction of Hamas. Thus far, a few have been returned, and Israel freed another; several bodies of hostages have also been found as the IDF has moved more deeply into Gaza.
Update: Later, at a press conference, Netanyahu responded to the families: “We march with you. I march with you. All of the people of Israel march with you.” He said there was no news to report on an agreement, but there would be more to say in future.
Joel B. Pollak is Senior Editor-at-Large at Breitbart News and the host of Breitbart News Sunday on Sirius XM Patriot on Sunday evenings from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. ET (4 p.m. to 7 p.m. PT). He is the author of the new biography, Rhoda: ‘Comrade Kadalie, You Are Out of Order’. He is also the author of the recent e-book, Neither Free nor Fair: The 2020 U.S. Presidential Election. He is a winner of the 2018 Robert Novak Journalism Alumni Fellowship. Follow him on Twitter at @joelpollak.