Families of hostages held in Gaza storm Israel’s parliament meeting demanding deal for release

A Palestinian woman cries as she sits next to her girl wounded in the Israeli bombardment of the Gaza Strip while receiving treatment at the Nasser hospital in Khan Younis, Southern Gaza Strip, Monday, Jan. 22, 2024. (AP Photo/Mohammed Dahman)

JERUSALEM — Dozens of family members of hostages held by Hamas stormed a committee meeting in Israel’s parliament Monday, demanding a deal to win their loved ones’ release, as European foreign ministers joined growing international calls for Israel to negotiate on the creation of a Palestinian state after the war.

The developments showed the increasing pressure on Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who has dug in on both fronts. He has insisted to the Israeli public that pursuing the devastating offensive in Gaza is the only way to bring the hostages home. At the same time, he has rejected the United States’ vision for a postwar resolution, saying he will never allow a Palestinian state.


The dispute over Gaza’s future pits Israel against its top ally and much of the international community. It also poses a major obstacle to plans for postwar governance or reconstruction of the coastal territory, large parts of which have been left unlivable by Israeli bombardment.

As fears grow that Israel’s war in Gaza will spark a wider regional conflict, the U.S. and British militaries bombed eight locations in Yemen used by the Houthi rebels. It’s the eighth time the U.S. has bombed Houthi sites since Jan. 12, U.S. officials said late Monday, speaking on condition of anonymity to discuss a military operation. The Iranian-backed Houthis have attacked shipping in the region’s waterways, saying they aim to end the Israeli offensive in the Gaza Strip.

In southern Gaza, Israeli strikes and shelling intensified in and around the city of Khan Younis, sending Palestinian families fleeing south in pickup trucks and donkey carts loaded with possessions.

In the city, which has been a battle zone for weeks, people dug graves for the dead inside the yard of Al-Nasser Hospital as staff struggled to deal with dozens of newly killed and wounded, including children. Health care workers said strikes hit at least four schools sheltering displaced people on the city’s western edges, including two inside a coastal strip that Israel had declared a safe zone for people fleeing.

Gaza’s internet and phone networks collapsed again Monday for the 10th time during the war. The repeated blackouts severely hamper distribution of aid that’s essential for the survival of the territory’s population of 2.3 million, U.N. officials said. The loss of service also prevents Palestinians from communicating with each other and the outside world.

Netanyahu has vowed to continue the offensive until “complete victory” over Hamas and to return all remaining hostages after the Oct. 7 rampage in southern Israel that triggered the war.

Israelis are increasingly divided on the question of whether it’s possible to do either.

Around 100 hostages were freed under a weeklong cease-fire deal in November in exchange for the release of Palestinians imprisoned by Israel. Around 130 remain captive, but a number have since been confirmed dead. Hamas has said it will free more captives only in exchange for an end to the war and the release of thousands of Palestinian prisoners.

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