Israelis are massively backing their army’s blitz on Hamas, despite the threat of more casualties and the soaring Palestinian toll.
A week into one of Israel’s deadliest offensives in the enclave sandwiched between the Jewish state and Egypt, polls show most Israelis support the war, the press is mostly positive and even avowed peaceniks are nodding in approval.
A poll published on Friday — the seventh day of the offensive — showed that some 95 percent of Israel’s Jewish population supports the bombardment of Hamas.
Eighty percent of the poll of 800 people backed "Operation Cast Lead" "without reservation," according to the survey published in the Maariv daily.
Even the leftist Meretz party, which normally opposes such operations, gave its blessing to the offensive.
The support has not been dented by several hundred rockets that Gaza militants have sent into Israel since the start of the offensive — or the fact that some of the projectiles have reached deeper than ever inside Israeli territory.
It has not been hampered by warnings of high Israeli casualties should the army send in troops after the air and naval strikes, nor by threats by Hamas to resume suicide bombings against Israel for the first time in three years.
It has neither been hurt by the soaring toll on the other side of the Gaza border — at least 425 Palestinians killed, at least a quarter of them civilians including three young brothers slain on Friday, and more than 2,200 wounded, according to medics and the United Nations.
The main reason behind the widespread support is the years of rocket fire coming from Gaza, observers and Israelis say.
The projectiles have killed 21 civilians in Israel since the start of the second Palestinian uprising in 2000. This compares with several thousand Palestinians killed during the same period.
But the indiscriminate nature has sent Israelis in communities around the Gaza border into a near-constant state of anxiety. Anger has for years mounted at the government for not doing enough to stop the fire, despite much of it being largely ineffectual.
"The Israeli public accepts (the high death toll on the other side) because it thinks it is the necessary price that the Palestinians have to pay to stop the rocket fire," Zeev Sternhell, a left-leaning political scientist, told AFP.
The Israelis living near Gaza are yet more emphatic.
"If we are scared, the people in Gaza should also be scared," Over Almalia said on the first day of the offensive after a Gaza rocket killed a neighbor in the southern Israeli town of Netivot.
Another neighbour, Motti Assuline, said: "The best protection for us is to go inside Gaza and go after them without any feelings. We must not give them the opportunity to attack us."
The wide backing given to the operation so far, however, may not last, observers say.
"The Israeli population always supports military operations at their start," Sternhell said. "It always gives backing to the government at the start of a campaign.”And only after a few days, when you have to decide where to go from there, they start posing questions."
(AFP via Alarabiya.net)