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Some 46 percent of Israelis said they do not support a massive Israel Defense Forces invasion into the Gaza Strip, with 40 percent saying they would favor such an operation, according to a poll released Thursday.

The poll, commissioned by Haaretz and performed by the survey company Dialogue, was carried out before Hamas fired dozens of Qassam rockets into Israel Wednesday and so the number of people who support an invasion may well have been higher if they were asked today.

Irrespective of this, past experience - including in the Second Lebanon War - shows that popular support for military action wanes rapidly unless they are won quickly, or if they result in too many casualties.

This knowledge, which has not escaped Defense Minister Barak and Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, could go a long way in explaining why they and other decision makers have so far refrained from ordering the IDF to enter Gaza.