Poll finds the majority want Benjamin Netanyahu to resign as Israel protests spread

About 80 per cent of Israelis say PM should resign as hostage families demand action

Israelis attend a rally calling for the release of hostages abducted by Hamas, in Tel Aviv. AFP
Powered by automated translation

Live updates: Follow the latest on Israel-Gaza

Israelis want Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to resign over the Hamas attack on October 7 and his handling of the current war in Gaza, according to a poll released on Saturday.

A poll published by Israel's Channel 12 found that 76 per cent of Israelis want the Prime Minister to step down, while 64 per cent believe an election should be held immediately after the war.

Mr Netanyahu, who battled record protests and growing criticism of his far-right government before the war began, has faced mounting opposition in the past month of war which has left about 11,000 people dead, including about 1,400 in Israel. About 240 are being held hostage in Gaza.

The poll comes as protests spread across Israel, including outside his home in Caesarea, where demonstrators renewed calls on Saturday for a ceasefire and the immediate release of all hostages.

Demonstrations were held across Israel over the weekend, including in Haifa, Eilat, Beersheba and Tel Aviv. Families of captives are sleeping in front of the army headquarters in the Tel Aviv city centre.

Hundreds gathered in Jerusalem on Saturday, including outside of the Mr Netanyahu's residence, where demonstrators tried to break through security barriers.

In Tel Aviv, the centre of protests over a judicial overhaul that rocked Israel earlier this year, thousands of people rallied against Mr Netanyahu and reiterated demands for the release of hostages.

“Prime Minister, on October 7 you abandoned us. We will not allow you to abandon the kidnapped and missing now. Bring them back,” Israeli media quoted one relative as saying.

Ella Ben-Ami, 23, whose parents were abducted, told AP she held Mr Netanyahu responsible and called for a halt in all humanitarian aid to Gaza until the hostages are freed.

The relatives of Israelis killed and held hostage by Hamas have hit out at Mr Netanyahu for his perceived responsibility for October 7.

The father of Shani Louk, a German-Israeli woman who was kidnapped at the Nova music festival and later declared dead, blamed the government for her death and said Mr Netanyahu bears “much responsibility” for what happened.

“If the Prime Minister were to show up at my house, I'd tell him to leave,” Nissim Louk told Israeli media last week.

Israel is still reeling from the worst attack in its history which displaced more than half a million people on its northern and southern borders, according to the military.

Mr Netanyahu has blamed the army and Shin Bet intelligence service for the attacks and attracted widespread condemnation for publicly accusing them of security failures in a now-deleted tweet.

Mr Netanyahu took to X, formerly Twitter, last week to deny claims he was warned of a Hamas attack, saying the army and intelligence services had repeatedly said the militant group was “deterred” and did not pose an imminent security threat.

He has also been fiercely criticised for not attending a single funeral of Israelis killed by Hamas.

“Support for Netanyahu and his coalition was draining even before October 7, and since the outbreak of war it has fallen much further,” Toby Greene, a politics lecturer at Israel's Bar-Ilan University and researcher at the London School of Economics, told AFP.

“If an election were held now he would lose badly.”

Far-right split

The PM's far-right cabinet has been widely criticised since its formation last year, with several ministers condemned for incendiary remarks against Palestinians.

Mr Netanyahu was urged on Sunday to fire Heritage Minister Amihai Eliyahu after he said dropping an atom bomb on Gaza was a “possibility”.

Mr Eliyahu said there are “no non-combatants” in Gaza and that deliveries of humanitarian aid to the coastal enclave would be a “failure”.

The minister, who does not hold significant sway in the government, has been suspended from attending cabinet meetings following the comments.

“A shocking and crazy statement by an irresponsible minister. He harmed the families of the abductees, harmed Israeli society and harmed our international standing,” opposition chief Yair Lapid wrote on X.

“The presence of radicals in the government endangers us and the goals of the war – defeating Hamas and returning all the hostages. Netanyahu must fire him this morning.”

Updated: November 05, 2023, 11:08 AM