Family, friends, and supporters of Hamas captives marched from Tel Aviv to demand immediate release and government action.

Iran PressWest Asia: Tens of thousands of protesters have arrived in Jerusalem after a five-day march from Tel Aviv to put pressure on the Israeli government for the immediate release of captives held by Hamas in Gaza.

An estimated 20,000 demonstrators, including family and friends of about 240 captives, held a rally in front of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu‘s office on Saturday. They say the government has been ignoring their pleas to prioritize bringing their loved ones home.

The marchers walked for hours along the highway connecting the two cities, holding posters of the captives with the slogan, "Bring them home now".

"They want to put pressure on the government to do everything they can to bring the hostages back", said Noam Alon, 25, clutching a photograph of his abducted girlfriend, Inbar.

The captives were taken during the October 7 attack by the Palestinian group on southern Israel, which also left 1,200 people dead. Since then, Israel launched a huge aerial and ground offensive on the Gaza Strip, killing more than 12,000 people, mostly civilians.

A spokesperson for the Qassam Brigades, Hamas’s military wing, said on Saturday that it has lost contact with some of the groups responsible for the safety of the captives in the Gaza Strip.

Many relatives and friends of the missing fear they will come to harm in Israeli attacks on Gaza designed to destroy Hamas. The government says the offensive improves the chances of recovering captives by putting pressure on Hamas.

Hamas on Monday released a video of the first hostage confirmed to have died in captivity and earlier said others have been killed.

That has stoked the anxiety of campaigners and relatives calling on the Israeli government to speed up any prisoner swap, and frustration with Netanyahu’s insistence that discretion is required around the Qatari- and Egyptian-mediated negotiations.

Talks for the release of prisoners between Hamas and Israel continue, but the Reuters news agency, citing a White House spokesman, reported that no agreement has been reached so far.

This comes after the Washington Post earlier reported that a deal was closed.


Read more:

Israeli hostage families demand government explanation of Gaza