Protesters in Israel release thousands of balloons to mark nine months of war

Protesters released balloons in southern Israel on Sunday 7 July to mark nine months since the country’s war with Hamas began.

Some 1500 back and yellow balloons were released, with the black representing people who were killed since 7 October, and the yellow for hostages still held in Gaza.

The protesters are continuing to call for elections and the release of hostages held in Gaza.

Israel launched the war in Gaza after last October’s Hamas attack in which militants stormed into the country, killed some 1,200 people — mostly civilians — and abducted about 250.

Israel says Hamas is still holding about 120 hostages — about a third of them now thought to be dead.

Hamas has given its initial approval of a US-backed proposal for a phased cease-fire deal in Gaza, dropping a key demand that Israel commit up front to a complete end to the war, a Hamas official and an Egyptian official said Saturday.

The apparent compromise by the militant group, which controlled Gaza before triggering the war with an October 7 attack on Israel, could deliver the first pause in fighting since November and set the stage for further talks on ending a devastating nine months of fighting.