A few hundred Israelis protested against Operation Pillar of Defense in Tel Aviv on Saturday night, calling on the government to reach an immediate cease-fire with Hamas in Gaza.

The demonstrators called the military operation an “election campaign” for Netanyahu, and chanted “Children in Sderot and Gaza want peace,” as well as calls against the “occupation.”

Protester Yuval Itah said the demonstration was about “Jews and Arabs together calling for a cease-fire,” adding, “I don’t care any more about Jews than I do about Palestinians in Gaza, I don’t anyone to die...”

When asked how to stop the rockets against the south of Israel, he said, “Through peace” and by pursuing dialogue with Hamas.

Holding a sign that read “stop shooting, start talking,” Anat Mendelsohn Machis said the war was meant in large part “to keep the public from talking about social issues, which is not Bibi’s [Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s] strong suit. Instead, now we’re all talking about war only.” She also called for Israel to stop the rockets through dialogue with Hamas.

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A separate protest was held Saturday in Nazareth where Hadash leader MK Muhammad Barakei said, “I accuse the Israeli government for the spilling of both Israeli and Palestinian blood, and I mourn victims on both sides. Civilians must be pulled from the cycle of horror. Netanyahu is mistaken if he thinks the [Gaza] operation will bring quiet.

This will not happen.”

According to protest organizers, 1,500 participants took part, both Jewish and Arab.

“This operation is motivated by party politics, it was started to help Netanyahu win the election and to eliminate any possibility of serious negotiations, after the reelection of US President Barack Obama,” Barakei said.

John Benzaquen contributed to this report.

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