70 Percent of Israeli Jews Support Death Penalty for Terrorists, Survey Shows

Most Israelis don’t think Netanyahu handled Temple Mount crisis well

Israeli Border Police monitoring Muslim worshippers outside Jerusalem's Temple Mount, July 28, 2017
Emil Salman

An overwhelming majority of Israeli Jews support the death penalty for terrorists, a new poll published Wednesday shows.

The Peace Index, a monthly survey published by the Jerusalem-based Israel Democracy Institute, found that 70 percent of Israeli Jews “strongly” or “moderately” support the death penalty.  

Close to two weeks ago, a Palestinian terrorist stabbed to death an elderly Israeli and his two adult children at a West Bank settlement while they were eating Shabbat dinner. Since then, various right-wing Israeli politicians have expressed support for imposing the death penalty as punished for such acts.

Israel has only once in its history exercised the death penalty, and that was in the case of Adolf Eichmann, a key mastermind of the Holocaust.

Almost as large a share of Israeli Jews – 66 percent – said they favored the death penalty for those convicted of murdering Israeli soldiers. 

According to the survey, two out of every three Israelis do not think that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu dealt prudently with the recent crisis on the Temple Mount. After Israeli Arabs shot dead two Israeli policemen guarding the Temple Mount last month, the government responded by installing metal detectors at the entrance to the Mount, which is the site of the Al-Aqsa Mosque. Muslims responded by praying outside rather than entering the site. Under pressure from Jordan and the Arab world, Israel ultimately backed down and removed the metal detectors

The respondents were asked whether they thought Netanyahu had an interest in keeping the Temple Mount crisis brewing to divert attention from investigations into various corruption scandals involving his close associates. A small majority of Israelis (about 52 percent) said they did not attribute cynical motives to the prime minister. Fifty percent of those questioned, however, said they believed Netanyahu was aware of the involvement of his close associates in one of these corruption scandals involving a submarine deal with Germany.

The survey was based on responses from a representative sample of Israelis (500 Jews and 100 Arabs) and had a margin of error of 4.1 percent.