JERUSALEM—Israel’s mass antigovernment protest movement has re-emerged after a sudden halt in the wake of the Oct. 7 attack, revitalized by the families of hostages and putting pressure on Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu over his handling of the war.

Whether the movement, which before the war drew half a million Israelis to the streets a week, can galvanize the same level of support will be a test of its potential to take down Netanyahu’s right-wing, ultranationalist and religious government and force new elections.

In four days of protests ending Wednesday, large crowds came out to call for the government to make the return of hostages from Gaza a priority and to push for elections. On Sunday, as around 100,000 protested across the country according to organizers, tens of thousands surrounded the Knesset, the Israeli parliament, in Jerusalem. While the turnout was below prewar levels, the revival of demonstrations showed how Israelis have become increasingly frustrated by Netanyahu’s handling of the war .

Before the Oct. 7 attack on Israel by Hamas, nearly half a million people came onto the streets weekly to demonstrate against a plan by the government to weaken the Supreme Court that protesters said threatened Israeli democracy. Military reservists said they wouldn’t serve if the overhaul passed. The country was divided.

The protesters have again focused their ire on Netanyahu’s government, this time saying he isn’t giving priority to the return of Israeli hostages held in Gaza, though it is one of Israel’s stated war goals, along with destroying Hamas.

On Wednesday, war cabinet member   Benny Gantz , one of Netanyahu’s chief political rivals, called for early elections in September, adding to the pressure aimed at bringing down the government.

The call for new elections echoes what a growing segment of Israeli society has begun to say openly: that despite the continuing war, Netanyahu needs to leave office. Still, there is no imminent threat to Netanyahu’s government collapsing, even if Gantz chooses to leave the government.

Likud, Netanyahu’s right-wing party, rejected the call for September elections and said it would harm Israel’s ability to execute the war.

On Tuesday, hundreds of silver tents dotted the road adjacent to the Knesset, where protesters had been camping out since Sunday. Holding up signs reading “The Israeli government is off the rails,” protesters called for “elections now” as they banged on drums.

Romy Naim, 21 years old, a pink-haired waitress from Tel Aviv, spent Monday night sleeping in a tent with other protesters in Jerusalem. She said that she came to demand a deal to free the hostages. “There are 134 people who have been in captivity for six months and nobody in the government cares,” she said. “They care more about staying in power, ” she said, reflecting the view among some protesters that Netanyahu, for his own political survival, is avoiding a deal that could bring the war to a halt to preserve his position of power.

Some members of Netanyahu’s coalition have argued that the government should focus on routing Hamas from Gaza and oppose a deal to release hostages that would include releasing thousands of Palestinian prisoners who are charged with murdering Israelis.

Most political analysts say Netanyahu will be forced to call for new elections when the war is over. Polling suggests he would be trounced if elections were held today.

When Hamas and other Palestinian militants attacked Israel on Oct. 7, the large-scale protest movement aimed at stopping the judicial overhaul ceased immediately. Israelis believed that their country faced a threat to its existence, and people banded together to count the dead, recover survivors and fight the war. The judicial overhaul appears to have been abandoned. Even amid all the anger directed at Netanyahu, most people appeared to agree that it wasn’t the time for new elections.

Nearly six months later, feelings have changed.

“I think the prime minister needs to listen carefully to the fact that demonstrators are here again demonstrating, and he should look at that as a wake-up call,” said Ruby Chen, 52, the American-Israeli father of Itay Chen, who was killed by militants on Oct. 7 and whose body is still held in Gaza.

The new wave of large demonstrations began in recent days after several family members of hostages switched tactics, joining the flagging antigovernment protests and singling out Netanyahu as a barrier to a deal. Until then, most hostage families had aimed to be nonpolitical, calling for the release of their loved ones but stopping short of aligning with protests against the government.

Even before last week, smaller groups of Israelis had started trickling out to protest against the government’s handling of the war. First hundreds, then a couple thousand, until the numbers soared this week.

“We didn’t protest during the war. The war changed things. But enough is enough, and it is now starting to gain traction,” said Avi Roth, 72, who recently went back to protesting.

Most of those joining the large protests this week aimed their ire at Netanyahu and the lack of a hostage deal. Most weren’t expressing anger over the war itself, although some people carried signs calling to end the occupation and the war.

Some clashes developed between protesters and police on Tuesday night near the prime minister’s residence. Five people were detained, according to police, including for trying to break through barriers to the residence, and 10 were detained in total throughout the three days of protests. Some people blocking roads were sprayed with skunk, a noxious liquid used in Israel for crowd control.

Leaders of the protest movement said it would be challenging to regain the numbers they had before Oct. 7. The public is tired, and many Israelis are still cautious about creating divisions in society during wartime. Some organizers, such as the reservist group Brothers in Arms, spent the months after Oct. 7 pivoting their efforts to focus on military service or supporting the home front.

One problem for the movement is that it hasn’t shown it can draw in new people, said Tamar Hermann, a senior fellow with the Israel Democracy Institute, a Jerusalem-based think tank. “These are almost the same people that participated in the Kaplan [protests],” she said, referring to the judicial overhaul. Without new audiences, the movement will struggle to reach the masses it requires, she said. “I don’t see the government being toppled by demonstrations of the size we see now, even if they are doubled,” said Hermann.

Jimmy Pinsly, who was protesting in Jerusalem on Tuesday, said it would be hard to draw large crowds because many Israelis are tired. “This war has taken a toll on everyone, and people are exhausted.”

Netanyahu’s approval ratings have plummeted. A March poll by the Israel Democracy Institute says 32% of Jewish Israelis approve of his conduct since Oct. 7.

The next elections in Israel are slated for October 2026. Netanyahu’s government, made up of right-wing, ultranationalist and religious lawmakers, would need at least five defections to topple. Protest leaders and opposition politicians say they are working to pressure individual members of the governing coalition to turn against Netanyahu’s government, yet there are no signs that its fall is imminent.

Moshe Radman, an entrepreneur and protest leader, said that the current strategy was to put as much pressure as possible on the coalition and opposition to call for early elections, both on the streets and by pressing individual ministers. “This is just the beginning,” he said.