F-16 - Stefano Sitzia - 03112011
An Israel Air Force F-16 fighter jet during last week’s exercise in Sardinia. Photo by Stefano Sitzia
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Israelis are almost evenly split on whether Israel should attack Iran's nuclear facilities, with 41 percent supporting such a strike and 39 percent opposed, a new Haaretz-Dialog poll has found. The remaining 20 percent said they were undecided.

The poll, which queried both Jewish and Arab respondents, also asked whether people trusted Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Ehud Barak "on the Iranian issue." Here the answer was more clear-cut, with 52 percent saying they did, compared to 37 percent who did not. Only 11 percent had no opinion.

The poll follows a spate of media reports in recent days about efforts by Netanyahu and Barak to muster a majority for such a strike in the forum of eight senior ministers. These reports coincided with several major military tests and drills.

Responding to the media reports, Iran's chief of staff said on Wednesday that Israel would regret any attack and be severely punished.

"We would make them regret such a mistake and would severely punish them," Gen. Hassan Firouzabadi told the ISNA news agency.

"In case of an attack by the Zionist regime, the United States would also be hit," he added, without elaborating.

Britain is also stepping up its preparations for a military strike on Iran, The Guardian newspaper reported on Wednesday. According to its report, London is increasingly concerned over Tehran's nuclear program and is preparing to deploy Royal Navy ships in the coming months to assist a possible American strike on Iran.

The paper cited senior British officials as saying they believed Iran had regained the technological capabilities that a cyber-attack damaged last year. Iran said the Stuxnet worm infected personal computers of employees at its Bushehr nuclear plant, but not the plant's main systems. The New York Times reported last January that the worm was a joint Israeli-American effort to undermine Iran's nuclear program.

Former Mossad chief Meir Dagan also discussed the Iranian issue on Wednesday at a business conference in Tel Aviv. Dagan, a vocal opponent of a military strike on Iran, initially declined to do so, saying, "I've already made enough noise about this issue."

But when pressed over the fact that several ministers recently accused him of betraying his trust by speaking out on such a sensitive issue, he retorted, "I'm not the one who started with the Iranian issue. Those who placed this option [on the table] are the prime minister and the defense minister. They said all the options are open, and that they are definitely considering the military option as well."

Dagan also said Israel should be "praying" for Bashar Assad's regime in Syria to fall, since any replacement would be Sunni, and hence likely to be less friendly toward Shi'ite Iran.

 קראו כתבה זו בעברית: סקר "הארץ": הציבור חלוק בדעתו אם נכון לתקוף באיראן