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IDF reservists during Operation Pillar of Defense 370.(Photo by: IDF Spokesperson)
Polls: Huge support for operation, not invasion
By Gil Stern Stern HOFFMAN
Survey finds 45% want to continue air strikes, 22% want to seek a cease-fire, and just 25% recommend a ground offensive.
Israelis expressed strong backing for Operation Pillar of Defense’s attacks by air but hesitancy to add a ground offensive, according to polls taken in recent days.

The polls were taken amid questions over whether thousands of IDF reservists who were called up would be used for ground operations or whether Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Ehud Barak were bluffing when they threatened to enter the Gaza Strip.

A poll taken by Panels for the Israeli Center for Political Training found that 85 percent of Israelis believe embarking on the operation was the correct decision. But when asked what should happen next, 45% said to continue air strikes, 22% said to seek a cease-fire and just 25% recommended a ground offensive.

A Dialog poll taken for Haaretz had similar results, with 84% supporting the operation, 39% saying it should be continued by air, 19% calling for an immediate cease-fire and 30% backing a ground operation.

A Midgam poll taken for Channel 10 on Thursday, the first full day of the operation, found that 91% of Israelis supported it. Seventy-six percent called for it to continue and 22% said to seek a cease-fire.

Netanyahu and Barak fared well in all of the polls, which showed that an overwhelming majority of Israelis do not believe they began the operation for political reasons.

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Asked whether they were satisfied with Netanyahu’s performance running the operation, 78% answered affirmatively in the Panels poll and 55% in the Dialog one. Barak’s approval was 70% and 52% in the Panels and Dialog surveys respectively.

In response to Midgam’s question on who is fit to handle Israel’s security challenges, 41% said Netanyahu, 18% Barak, 7% former prime minister Ehud Olmert, 6% Kadima chairman Shaul Mofaz, 4% Labor leader Shelly Yacimovich, 3% former foreign minister Tzipi Livni and 2% Yesh Atid chairman Yair Lapid.

When asked by Dialog whether Barak should remain defense minister, 42% answered affirmatively and 41% said no. When Panels asked who was most fit to be defense minister, former IDF chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. (res.) Gabi Ashkenazi, who is barred from holding the post during his current cooling-off period finished first, followed by Vice Premier Moshe Ya’alon, and Barak.

Both the Dialog and Panels polls found that the Center-Right bloc would win 66 seats, the Center- Left bloc 50-51 mandates, and renegade Shas MK Haim Amsalem’s new Am Shalem party three to four seats. Netanyahu and Liberman’s Likud- Beytenu joint list would win 41 seats in the Dialog survey and 38 in the Panels poll, in which National Union MK Arieh Eldad’s newly created Strength for Israel party passes the 2% electoral threshold with three seats.

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