Israeli protesters urging Gaza deal block roads

JERUSALEM (Reuters) – Protests aimed at pressuring the Israeli government to reach a hostage deal with Hamas began across the country on Sunday, with demonstrators blocking roads and picketing at the homes of government ministers.

Protests began at 6:29 am (0329 GMT), corresponding to the time of Hamas’ Oct. 7 assault on Israel, according to Israeli media.

The demonstrators took to the streets, blocking rush hour traffic at major intersections across the country. They briefly set fire to tires on the main Tel Aviv-Jerusalem highway before police cleared the way.

Efforts to secure a hostage deal between Israel and Hamas in Gaza after nine months of war have gained momentum in recent days, with officials expressing optimism but saying gaps remain between the sides.

Gaza health authorities say more than 38,000 Palestinians have been killed in the offensive launched in response to Hamas’ attack on southern Israel, in which 1,200 people were killed and over 250 taken hostage, according to Israeli tallies.

Small groups with megaphones and banners also protested outside the houses of a number of ministers and coalition lawmakers.

“Total failure! Total failure!” a small crowd yelled outside the house of cabinet minister Ron Dermer, a member of Netanyahu’s inner circle.

At Kibbutz Or Haner, near the border with Gaza, protesters hung a black balloon for every person killed in the attack and a yellow balloon for every hostage still held in Gaza.

Some Israelis disagree with the protesters’ aims, and are pressing Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government to spurn a deal and keep fighting until all the country’s objectives have been met.

(Reporting by Alessandro Diviggiano and Ilan Rosenberg; Editing by Sharon Singleton)

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