Israelis marching for captive release reach Jerusalem

AFP , Saturday 2 Mar 2024

Thousands of Israeli demonstrators arrived Saturday in Jerusalem, concluding a four-day march from the Gaza border in a bid to pressure the government to secure the captive release.

Family and supporters of the hostages held captive by Hamas in Gaza complete the final leg of a four-day march from the Israel-Gaza border to Jerusalem, to demand the immediate release of all hostages, in Jerusalem, Saturday, March 2, 2024. AP


Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's government has come under increasing domestic pressure to bring home the 130 captives Israel says remain in the Gaza Strip -- including 31 who are presumed dead -- since October 7.

Hamas abducted around 250 Israelis and foreigners during the Al-Aqsa Flood operation in southern Israel which also resulted in the deaths of around 1,160 people, mostly civilians, according to an AFP tally of official figures.

Israel's war on Gaza has killed 30,320 people in the enclave, mostly women and children, according to the territory's health ministry.

Israeli media estimated the crowd that arrived in Jerusalem at about 15,000 people.

"Together we will bring the... kidnapped people back home," Gabriela Leimberg, a former captive who was released during a one-week truce in November, told AFP.

The captives "are the top priority that needs to be resolved," Nadav Rudaeff, son of 61-year-old Lior Rudaeff who is held captive, told the marchers as they made their way to Jerusalem, according to a video distributed by the organizers.

"Come this evening to Jerusalem," the seat of the Israeli government, he added, asking supporters to "be with us and to yell as loud as we can, 'Bring them home now!'"

International mediators have been scrambling to lock in a new truce deal that may include captive release before the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan, which begins on March 10 or 11, depending on the lunar calendar.

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