Overwhelming Israeli support of Gaza op
Poll: Backing comes despite civilian deaths in Gaza; 80% against truce lacking Gilad Schalit's release.
The Israeli military operation against Hamas in Gaza enjoys the overwhelming support of Israeli Jews despite the loss of civilian life in the Hamas-run territory, a survey released Wednesday showed.
A whopping 94% of the public support or strongly support the operation while 92% think it benefits Israel's security, according to the Tel Aviv University survey.
The poll found that 92% of Israeli Jews justify the air force's attacks in Gaza despite the suffering of the civilian population in the Strip and the damage they cause to infrastructure.
Nearly 1,000 Palestinians have been killed during the 19-day old operation, about half of them Hamas terrorists.
Seventy percent of the Israeli public said that the ground operation, which got under way on January 3, was a necessary move, the survey found.
Despite ongoing international calls for an immediate cease-fire and a flurry of diplomatic activity to reach a cease-fire by week's end, the survey found that 90% of Israelis believed that Israel should continue with the operation until all its objectives were achieved.
The survey found that 70% of the public believe the operation had high or moderately high chances of achieving all its objectives, with a whopping 93% approving of the IDF's fighting capability.
About 80% of the Israeli public oppose the cease-fire with Hamas unless it includes the release of IDF soldier Gilad Schalit seized by Hamas in a cross-border raid two and half years ago, the survey found.
The poll also found that the public was much more supportive of the country's military leadership than its political leaders.
A total of 85% of respondents voiced confidence in the IDF Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. Gabi Ashkenazi, compared to 62% for Defense Minister Ehud Barak and President Shimon Peres, and 53% for Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni and Likud opposition leader Binyamin Netanyahu. Prime Minister Ehud Olmert bottomed out the list with a 44% confidence rating.
The survey also found that Israeli Arabs - who make up 20% of Israel's 7 million residents - have the exact opposite views of Israeli Jews about the military assault in Gaza.
A total of 85% of Israeli Arabs oppose the operation, the survey finds, while 80% say Israel should sign a cease-fire agreement even if it does not entail the freeing of Gilad Schalit.
The telephone poll, which was conducted between January 4-6 in the second week of the Gaza assault among 593 respondents, has a margin of error of 4.5 percent.