Israelis are mostly split on whether they think Syria will try to hit Israel in the aftermath of a possible US-led attack, a poll partially released Sunday found.
The survey, conducted for the Israel Democracy Institute and Tel Aviv University as part of the monthly Peace Index, also found that most Israeli Jews think Washington’s position in the region will be strengthened by a US-led attack.
According to the poll, 46 percent of Jewish Israelis think Assad will carry out Syria’s threat to hit Israel if struck by the US, while 42% think he will not.
Among Arab Israelis, 40% believe Assad will attack Israel, and 47% believe he will not.
Israeli officials have said there is only a small probability Israel will take on rocket attacks as a result of US action, as Syria and Iran have threatened. However, masses of Israelis swarmed gas mask distribution centers last week over fears of a possible attack, and the IDF slightly raised its alertness level.
On Saturday, US President Barack Obama announced that he would seek Congressional approval for military action against Syria, an apparent about-face after Washington seemed poised to hit Damascus in retaliation for a chemical attack that the US says killed over 1,400 people on August 21.
Observers say US inaction on Syria may send Israel the message that it cannot trust Washington to come to its aid against Iran.
The poll found that 54% of Israeli Jews believe the US’s position in the region in the Middle East will be strengthened by military action, while 21% said the US’s status will not be affected and 14% believe it will be diminished. By contrast, 34% of Israeli Arabs believe the status of the US will be diminished, only 26% believe its status will be strengthened, and 20% believe it will remain unaffected.
The survey will be published in full on Monday.
It was carried out on August 27-28, 2013, and polled 601 adults who represent a sample of the population of Israel. The measurement error for a sample of this size is 4.5%, IDI said.