IDF support sign
A billboard in Givatayim expressing support for Israel's soldiers and residents in the south. 97% of poll respondents were satisfied with the army's performance in Gaza. Photo by Ofer Vaknin
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A broad consensus of the Israeli public still justifies Operation Protective Edge, a month after Israel's government launched it, even though uncertainty remains about how the offensive against Hamas in Gaza will turn out, according to the latest Peace Index.

The Peace Index is a joint project of Tel Aviv University and the Israel Democracy Institute, which have released monthly polls about attitudes toward the Israeli-Palestinian conflict since 1994.

The pollsters found that support for the operation prevailed across the political spectrum despite "domestic debates on how Israel should handle the indirect talks with Hamas and on whether the campaign was conducted appropriately on the operational and humanitarian levels."

A solid majority - 92% - of the Jewish Israeli public was in agreement on at least two other issues – pessimism about the lasting effects of the operation on rocket fire from Gaza and optimism about Israel's future.

Support levels reached 97% on the moderate right and 95% on the moderate left, while right-wing respondents, at 89%, were more critical of Israel's conduct during the campaign and its results so far, according to the report released Thursday. Justification among the left was the lowest at 67%. Some two-thirds of the Arab-Israeli public stated that the operation was not justified.

On the remaining issues, the Jewish Israeli public was fairly divided.

A slight majority of the Jewish public felt the goals of the operation were clear or moderately clear. A majority of 53% said they considered Protective Edge to have accomplished only a small part of its goals, while just 2% though all its goals were achieved. The Jewish public was also split about whether the army has used an appropriate amount of firepower or not enough, while very few – 6% - said they felt the IDF has used too much firepower.

Overall satisfaction with the operation is moderate. A plurality of Jewish respondents, 41%, gave the operation a three on a scale from one to five. 27% are moderately to very disappointed, while 32% are moderately to very satisfied with the operation.

The Arab-Israeli population was overwhelmingly disappointed to very disappointed, but the pollsters noted that the "disappointment of the Jewish public and of the Arab public do not relate to the same elements of reality, given the deep disparities between the two populations, as noted above, regarding the operation as a whole.

Looking ahead, 71% of Israeli Jews do not believe the operation in Gaza will end the rocket fire entirely for at least three years from the moment it ends. Over a third of Arab-Israelis, in contrast, think – or hope – the quiet will last at least three years.

In contrast, a solid majority of Jewish Israelis – 65% - are moderately or very optimistic about the country's future, according to the poll. Right-wingers and centrists were more optimistic than the moderates on either side of the political spectrum and much more so than leftists. Some 47% of Arab Israelis are pessimistic about the state's future.

According to the poll, 58% of Jewish Israelis think Israel should attack Hamas until it surrenders rather than make concessions, while 41% advocate responding positively to Hamas demands that are reasonable "from the standpoint of its national security." Nearly two-thirds of the Jewish public is in favor of combining military and diplomatic approaches. There was no support for accepting all of Hamas's demands in order to end the rocket fire.

While there is almost unanimous support for the IDF's performance during the operation, support for the political echelons stands at 61%. Some 42% agreed with criticism against Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that he has been too hesitant and moderate, although 54% disagreed with this assessment.

Most of the public expressed satisfaction with the way freedom of expression has been maintained during the operation, although some on the left felt the public was being silenced and some on the right felt their criticism was restrained. Still, 58% expressed support for limiting freedom of expression during such a crisis, with only 39% backing unlimited freedom of expression.

Israelis attitudes about the world around them seem to be contradictory, the poll also revealed. While 63% of the Jewish public still thinks “The whole world is against us,” 60% percent expressed trust in Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi to serve as a fair mediator between Israel and Hamas.

The survey included 600 respondents, constituting a representative sample of the adult Israeli population, with a margin of error 4.1%.