newsIsrael at War

After 100 days of war, Israelis show concern over endgame

Only 36% are optimistic Israel will achieve the goals of the Gaza campaign • Large majority supports eradicating the threat from Hezbollah militarily.

IDF soldiers in the Gaza Strip, Jan. 13, 2024. Credit: IDF Spokesperson.
IDF soldiers in the Gaza Strip, Jan. 13, 2024. Credit: IDF Spokesperson.

The Israeli public feels a bond with the IDF and the majority oppose reinstating the Palestinian Authority in Gaza, an Israel Hayom poll conducted to mark the 100 days of war shows.

The figures also show that there is a slim majority (53%) in favor of an agreement to release captives in exchange for terrorists. In the survey, conducted by the Maagar Mochot research institute, 505 people were asked to rate the conduct of key figures.

Some 83% said they approved of IDF Spokesman Rear Adm. Daniel Hagari, while Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu received a 40% approval rating, with 57% disapproving of his performance.

National Unity Party leader Benny Gantz, who seems to have made the right choice by entering the government, gets a 67% approval rating compared to 28% who disapprove of him.

Israelis appear to be content with the performance of IDF Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Herzi Halevi. Some 71% approve, while 23% disapprove. Israel Police Commissioner Kobi Shabtai is also ranked high with 61% approving of his conduct compared to 26% who disapprove of it. 

Education Minister Yoav Kisch, whose ministry facilitated the transfer of evacuees from their homes to hotels, receives mixed reviews. Some 36% disapprove of his work while 40% approve of it. Some 65% of respondents said they approved of President Isaac Herzog’s conduct.

Concerns for politicians

In the political arena, Netanyahu’s position appears better than that of Finance Minister and Religious Zionism Party head Bezalel Smotrich and National Security Minister and Otzma Yehudit Party leader Itamar Minister Ben-Gvir.

Some 62% disapprove of Smotrich’s actions, and 85% disapprove of Ben-Gvir’s.

Netanyahu’s position is better, but he is still in a perilous position with Likud voters. Only 45% of them expressed satisfaction with his performance, compared to 38% for Gantz and 48% for the IDF chief of staff.

The situation of Netanyahu, Smotrich and Ben Gvir teaches two things: First, they would not want an early election to be called; second, to regain the trust of the public, they will need to implement a right-wing policy in practice, not just issue strong statements in the Cabinet.

Perhaps due to what has transpired since the 2011 Shalit Deal, Israeli public opinion is not favorably inclined towards a prisoner exchange deal that would let terrorists with blood on their hands roam free.

Only 53% responded that they are in favor of such a deal compared to 47% against. The more right-wing one’s party is, the greater the number of opponents to the possibility: Some 73% in the Religious Zionism and Otzma Yehudit factions are against such a deal, while 41% oppose it in Likud. Some 61% are in favor in Yesh Atid and 59% in the National Unity Party.

Doubts about control deals

Regarding whether Israel will achieve its goals in the war—the release of all captives and the end of Hamas rule in Gaza—only 36% believe the country will achieve these goals, while 64% believe it will not.

Asked if there is a need for action on the northern border or if it would be better to let the international community handle the situation with Hezbollah, the majority, 69%, said they were in favor of a military action that will eliminate the threat from Lebanon.

As for the day after in Gaza and the involvement of the Palestinian Authority, it seems Netanyahu is in line with the sentiment among voters in Israel. Some 78% oppose having the P.A. rule in Gaza while 22% favor it.

Originally published by Israel Hayom.

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