Al Jazeera Close Up

Why I’m protesting against my Israeli government | Close Up

Gil Dickmann’s aunt was killed on October 7. His cousin is a captive. He’s leading the charge against Israel’s Gaza war.

Night after night, activist Gil Dickmann takes to a stage in Tel Aviv to rally his fellow Israelis in demanding their government change its approach to the war in Gaza. The 31-year-old believes a deal with Hamas is the only way to end the killing and bring Israeli captives back home.

For Dickmann, the situation is personal. On October 7, his aunt Kinneret Gat was killed in Be’eri, a kibbutz in southern Israel, and his cousin Carmel Gat is believed to be held captive in the Gaza Strip.

Since Hamas’s Qassam Brigades and other Palestinian armed groups launched an unprecedented attack on Israel six months ago – killing 1,139 people and taking an estimated 240 people captive – Israel’s bombardment and invasion of Gaza has destroyed most of the besieged enclave’s infrastructure, starved a civilian population and killed more than 33,000 people, most of them women and children.

For several months, Dickmann has led a campaign to pressure Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his war cabinet to scale back its military operation and do more to secure an exchange of Palestinian prisoners for the captives. According to the activist, his cousin was on the cusp of being freed in late November until Israel cancelled a prisoner swap and a temporary truce collapsed.

Dickmann reveals how the war has changed him. “I don’t know any people from Gaza. Maybe that’s the wake-up call,” he says. “We thought that we could live if we shelter ourselves and go to safe rooms and build the Iron Dome … and we don’t have to find a solution for this.”

This Close Up documentary provides insight into the deep divisions straining Israeli society. The nation is still reeling from its worst ever loss of life as its citizens are increasingly questioning a brutal war being waged by a government that has failed to deliver on its promised aims and is isolating the country on the world stage.


Writer: Tierney Bonini

Editor: Antonia Perello

Sound editor and mixer: Linus Bergman

Colourist: Catherine Hallinan

Executive Producer: Tierney Bonini

Senior Editor: Donald Cameron