Nov. 18 (UPI) -- Nearly 20,000 demonstrators, including relatives of Israeli hostages in Gaza, marched toward Jerusalem Saturday to put pressure on Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to accept a ceasefire that would potentially free hundreds of captives after six weeks of war between Israel and Hamas.
The massive crowd set out on foot from Tel Aviv Saturday morning, arriving in Mevasseret Zion in the afternoon before proceeding to the Israeli capital, the Jerusalem Post reported. The United States did not recognize Jerusalem as Israel's capital until 2017.
The protesters are demanding the government make increased efforts to free family members held since the war began on Oct. 7.
Opposition leader Yair Lapid participated in the march as relatives of hostages demanded a meeting with high-level officials in the Israeli government, including Netanyahu.
However, it remains unclear whether families would be granted a sit-down with officials who were mostly calling the shots amid the conflict, including Defense Minister Yoav Galant, or Strategic Affairs Minister Ron Dermer.
Family members were expected to meet in the evening with cabinet ministers Benny Gantz and Gadi Eisenkot in a gathering that was arranged by attorney Gilead Sher, who is representing the families.
"You are responsible for returning them, meet us, and stop making us beg," representatives said as the crowd grew in numbers along the journey.
Israeli officials say 239 people are still being held hostage in Gaza since the surprise attack last month. More than 11,000 Palestinians, including 4,630 children, have been killed in Gaza in retaliation.