Protesters rallied outside Benjamin Netanyahu’s residence on November 4th, demanding his resignation due to the recent surprise attack by Hamas fighters on settlements surrounding the Gaza Strip.
Demonstrators displayed Israeli flags and chanted “Put him in jail!” as hundreds breached police barriers around Netanyahu’s Jerusalem home.
A significant number of Israelis hold Netanyahu responsible for intelligence failures that led to the capture of around 240 Israelis by Hamas on October 7th.
During that period, Israel’s security services did not consider a ground attack by Hamas as likely. They had relocated troops away from the Gaza border to protect settlers in the West Bank in the preceding months. Additionally, over recent years, the Israeli army had disarmed security details responsible for protecting the settlements surrounding Gaza.
Many Israelis are also upset with Netanyahu’s strategy of strengthening Hamas politically, which he pursued in an attempt to weaken the Palestinian Authority and undermine calls for peace negotiations and the establishment of a Palestinian state.
The protest on that Saturday coincided with a Channel 13 poll, indicating that 76 percent of Israelis believed Netanyahu should step down, and 64 percent supported holding an election immediately after the conflict.
In the poll, when asked about the primary responsibility for the attack, 44 percent of Israelis attributed blame to Netanyahu, while 33 percent pointed to the military chief of staff and senior military officials. Additionally, 5 percent held the Defense Minister accountable.
Netanyahu has not yet taken personal responsibility for the shortcomings that allowed the unexpected Hamas assault, resulting in the deaths of over 1,400 people.
Tragically, some Israeli soldiers and civilians were killed by Hamas fighters, while others lost their lives in encounters with Israeli security forces as they tried to prevent Hamas from taking Israeli captives back to Gaza.
Netanyahu has declined to initiate an investigation into the intelligence failures and the reasons behind the high number of Israeli casualties until the conclusion of the ongoing conflict with Hamas.
There are also emerging reports suggesting dissatisfaction from the White House with Netanyahu’s leadership, with indications that they are exploring potential successors. According to a Politico report earlier this week, Joe Biden and senior White House officials have discussed the likelihood that Benjamin Netanyahu’s political career may be approaching its end.
Furthermore, many Israelis are frustrated with the government’s unsuccessful efforts to secure the release of the captives.
On the 7th of October, during the initial day of the Hamas assault, a prominent Israeli minister named Bezalel Smotrich called for a strong response from Israeli forces, prioritizing a severe strike against Hamas over immediate efforts to secure the release of the captives.
In a separate demonstration in Tel Aviv on the following Saturday, thousands of people gathered, displaying flags and showcasing photographs of individuals held captive in Gaza. They held placards bearing messages like “Free the hostages at any cost” while chanting, “Return them home immediately.”
Ofri Bibas-Levy, whose brother, along with his four-year-old son Ariel and 10-month-old son Kfir, were seized by Hamas, informed Reuters, “We have no knowledge of their whereabouts, the conditions they are being held in, or whether Kfir and Ariel are receiving sufficient nourishment. Ariel is just an infant.”
Following the assault, Israel initiated a highly aggressive military campaign in Gaza, resulting in the deaths of over 9,000 Palestinians, with a significant number being women and children. Israel caused extensive destruction in large parts of the region, deliberately targeting residential high-rise buildings, hospitals, schools, and even places of worship. These attacks often involved the use of large 2,000-pound bombs.
Prior to the conflict, Netanyahu’s popularity had already been on the decline due to his legal battles against corruption charges, which he denies. Additionally, he had pushed for a contentious plan to limit the authority of the judiciary, leading to mass protests in the streets involving hundreds of thousands of people.