Netanyahu describes Hamas terrorists as “dead men walking” as 30,000 people march in Jerusalem

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Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu declared all Hamas members to be “dead men walking,” while an estimated 30,000 people marched in Jerusalem to demand the government return hostages taken by the movement.

Netanyahu spoke at a news conference Saturday evening in Tel Aviv, after protesters stopped outside his office an hour away in the Holy Old City.

The prime minister insisted that “there was no deal to release the hostages,” and also appeared to shame those demanding new elections, claiming to be “astounded” by the political talk “when our soldiers fight in Gaza, and they fall in battle; The families of the hostages are in a big nightmare.

“There will be a time for politics,” he said, according to The Times of Israel.

Thousands of demonstrators marched in Jerusalem in honor of the Hamas hostages on Saturday.
Reuters

In other developments in Israel on Saturday:

  • Brett McGurk, President Biden’s chief Middle East adviser, said Saturday at a security conference in Bahrain that only the release of the estimated 240 hostages would lead to a “major pause” in the war and a “massive increase in humanitarian aid.”
  • A Hamas spokesman claimed that the movement no longer knew the current status of all the Israeli hostages because it had lost contact with those holding them.
  • Observation points deployed along the Gaza border before the October 7 massacre had witnessed unusual activity weeks before the attack, but were allegedly threatened by their commanders and told to remain silent, according to Israeli outlet N12. A senior commander is said to have told them: “If you bother all of us with these things again, you will be court-martialed.”
  • The Israeli military said it was investigating reports that 50 people were killed at the UN-run Al-Fakhoura school in the Jabalia refugee camp on Saturday, the BBC reported. “I cannot confirm that this incident is the IDF, but we see pictures like you on social media. We are investigating the matter,” IDF spokesman Lieutenant Colonel Peter Lerner told the site. Hamas claimed that Israeli forces fired on the facility, which Shelters displaced families.
  • Gallant said that the Israeli ground invasion is now going through the “second phase” and will soon move to southern Gaza, adding that “Hamas has suffered a strong blow, and is losing tunnels, bunkers and sites.”
  • In an editorial in the Washington Post, Biden called on the world to oversee security in Gaza after the war. “The international community must allocate resources to support the people of Gaza in the immediate aftermath of this crisis, including temporary security measures,” he wrote.
  • An opinion poll published by Israel’s N12 showed a rise in national support for Jewish settlement in the Gaza Strip after the conflict was resolved. In 2005, about 8,000 Jews left their homes in 21 settlements in the Strip. Now, 32% of those polled said: “Israel should survive forever and renew Jewish settlement.” Another 30% said that the region should be subject to “international guardianship,” while 14% answered that Israel should maintain a military presence there.
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    “We will walk to Gaza”

    In the five-day march to Jerusalem, the swelling crowd supported loved ones of the hostages, most of whom carried signs with pictures of their missing relatives.

    The demonstrators descended on Jerusalem after a five-day march from Tel Aviv.
    AP

    “The journey is not over yet. Forty-three days is a very long time. We will continue in every possible way until every one of them returns home,” said organizer Yuval Haran, whose family members were kidnapped during the Hamas blitz on October 7. He told Haaretz.

    “I returned tonight from the United States of America, and we had a meeting with Jake Sullivan. I do not understand how the National Security Advisor of the United States could have enough time to meet with us – but the Minister of Defense of Israel does not have time.” Being kidnapped by the group terrorist, Israeli N12 said.

    The demonstrators called on the Military Cabinet to meet with the families on Saturday evening.

    Kobi Ben-Ami, the brother of hostage Ohad Ben-Ami, told N12: “You are responsible for returning them now. Meet us and stop letting us beg – this does not make sense.”

    The group is headed by loved ones of the 240 hostages who have gone missing since October 7.
    Getty Images

    Some relatives even suggested taking matters into their own hands.

    The hostage’s mother, Eden Zakaria, said: “We have been walking for five days without stopping, and my legs hurt, my shoulders hurt, and everything hurts, but nothing hurts like my heart.” According to The Times of Israel.

    “Even if we need to walk to Gaza, we will walk to Gaza. She added: “Wherever we want to go, we will go, and we will not abandon our children.”

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    At one point, Israeli opposition leader Yair Lapid was seen joining the protest.

    The newspaper noted that Lapid criticized Netanyahu’s approach to the conflict between Israel and Hamas, and called on him this week to step down “immediately.”

    The hospital is in chaos

    As officials continued to investigate the case of Al-Fakhoura School, chaos reigned in Gaza City as hundreds of patients and families fled Al-Shifa Hospital on foot in an attempted mass evacuation.

    However, six doctors stayed behind to care for 120 patients who were more likely to move.

    “Most of the medical staff have left Al-Shifa Hospital… Many patients cannot leave the hospital because they are in intensive care beds or incubators,” Head of the Plastic Surgery Department Ahmed Al-Makhalati wrote on Saturday.

    “I will be staying at Al-Shifa Hospital with 5 other doctors with 120 patients (as patients cannot leave due to their health conditions).”

    Israeli military vehicles next to damaged buildings amid the Israeli army’s ongoing ground operation against the Palestinian Islamist movement Hamas.
    Via Reuters

    The doctor called on the World Health Organization and the International Committee of the Red Cross to “take the necessary measures to protect the medical staff and patients at Al-Shifa Hospital.”

    CNN reported that the Israeli army had previously denied issuing an evacuation order, despite hundreds of people fleeing on foot on Saturday morning.

    The exact cause of the sudden flood is still unclear. The hospital turned into a dangerous battle site on Wednesday, when Israeli forces raided the facility as part of their operation against Hamas.

    Lieutenant Colonel Lerner told the BBC that the Israeli army had been “encouraging people to leave for several weeks” and was coordinating the departures on Saturday morning.

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    Citizens gather near the bodies of Palestinians in the northern Gaza Strip.
    Reuters

    “It is a huge challenge for any professional military operating in such a hostile environment as terrorists use tunnels to exit and fire RPGs – and they do so from places such as hospitals, schools and mosques, wherever they can benefit from humanitarian and civilian aid.” The arena,” he insisted.

    In addition to the controversy surrounding the refugee camp school and the Shifa facility, the death toll from air strikes launched by the Israeli army on Khan Yunis in the southern Gaza Strip early Saturday rose from 32 to 64, Haaretz reported, citing medical sources in Gaza.

    The agency did not specify whether the sources belonged to organizations controlled by Hamas or not.

    Initial reports said 26 people were killed when the strikes hit a residential building, and six more died moments later when a house in Deir al-Balah was bombed.

    Pictures obtained by NBC News showed that the streets of the area were full of shrouded bodies throughout the day, as relatives of the victims paid their respects.

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