Demonstrators across Israel demand release of Hamas-held hostages

Demonstrators across Israel have called on the government to secure the release of the hostages still detained in Gaza by Islamic group Hamas.

Thousands of people are believed to have taken part in one of the rallies held in Tel Aviv on Saturday night.

Some urged the government to accept a ceasefire to persuade Hamas to release the hostages.

Others demanded that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's government step down because it has failed to free the hostages for nearly four months.

In southern Gaza, the Israeli military has continued its offensives on Khan Younis and Rafah.

Palestinian media reported that an Israeli airstrike hit a kindergarten used as a shelter in Rafah on Saturday night, killing at least two children and injuring many others.

Health authorities in Gaza say the death toll from the Israeli military offensive has reached 27,365.

Negotiations to stop fighting and secure the release of the hostages have been held since late January under the mediation of Qatar and Egypt.

Hamas is calling for a complete ceasefire, but Israel rejects the request.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken is scheduled to visit the Middle East, including Israel and Qatar, from Sunday through Thursday, to help broker the deal.