Hostage families slam Netanyahu for insisting on ‘total victory’, call for his ouster

Israel agreed to a hostage deal that included a 6-week pause in fighting and the release of hostages in exchange for Palestinian prisoners, but Hamas demanded a permanent ceasefire.

By Vered Weiss, World Israel News

At a press conference held on Saturday night at Kirya military headquarters in Tel Aviv, hostage families voiced strong criticism of the government and some demanded Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s ouster.

On the 176th day since Hamas took Israeli hostages from southern communities, sixteen family members gathered to announce a new phase of increased pressure to secure a hostage deal, with some suggesting new elections to replace Netanyahu.

The latest hostage deal, like the one preceding it, was stymied by an impasse between Hamas and Israel, with Israel agreeing to a deal to release 40 Israeli captives in exchange for hundreds of Palestinian prisoners during a 6-week pause in fighting and Hamas demanding nothing less than a permanent ceasefire.

The hostage families laid the blame at the feet of Netanyahu and criticized his insistence on “total victory” and military pressure on Hamas to secure the release of hostages.

The first speaker at the press conference was daughter of 80-year-old hostage Yoram Metzger, Ayala Metzger who said, “The prime minister left us no choice. We all saw how Netanyahu repeatedly botched a deal for the return of the hostages.”

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She continued, “We saw how his personal political interest drives him time and time again in making decisions and how his concern for coalition stability outweighs his clear duty to bring our loved ones home.”

“We were told to sit still, we were told to travel the world, but after six months, the hostages are still in Gaza! This is a complete and deliberate failure!” she concluded.

Einav Tsengaoker, mother of hostage Matan Tzengaoker, also blamed Netanyahu for the failure to secure a hostage deal and declared, “We understood that you are the obstacle that consciously and deliberately prevents a deal.”

She called for new elections, saying, “We are forced to do everything in our power to remove the obstacle, which is you, and we are forced to start a new phase in our struggle. From now on, we will work to replace you.”

In addition to the press conference, protests occurred in many areas of the country on Saturday night and included setting fires and obstructing roads.

While the press conference took place in Kirya, other hostage family members and other demonstrators gathered in Dizengoff street in Tel Aviv and lit a bonfire on Begin Street which was extinguished by the police before it was once again set ablaze.

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Demonstrators blocked Ayalon Highway as well as the Sha’ar Hanegev Junction near the southern city of Sderot, and Yitzhak Rager street in Beersheva.