Poll: 74% of Israelis oppose counterstrike on Iran if it harms security alliances

Over half of Hebrew U. survey respondents see need to consider political, military demands from allies; say US aid in thwarting attack obligates Israel to coordinate future actions

Stuart Winer is a breaking news editor at The Times of Israel.

An Israel Air Force fighter jet F-15, at the Tel Nor airforce base. January 1, 2024. (Moshe Shai/Flash90)
An Israel Air Force fighter jet F-15, at the Tel Nor airforce base. January 1, 2024. (Moshe Shai/Flash90)

Nearly three-quarters of the Israeli public oppose a retaliatory strike on Iran for its massive missile attack on the country if such action would harm Israel’s security alliance with its allies, according to a poll published Tuesday.

The Hebrew University survey also found that over half the public believes Israel “respond[s] positively” to the military and political demands of allies.

Israel has vowed to retaliate after Iran overnight Saturday fired over 300 missiles and drones at the country. Almost all were intercepted before they reached the country as the United States led a coordinated air defense shield that involved Israeli, American, British, French and Jordanian forces, reportedly along with radar and intelligence input from some Gulf states, including Saudi Arabia.

Only a handful of missiles made it through the defenses — the Israel Defense Forces said 99 percent were stopped — and those that hit caused minor damage, as well as severely injuring a young girl.

Israel’s allies, led by the US, have urged it against striking back at Iran.

The Hebrew University survey was conducted April 14-15 by internet and telephone, and sampled 1,466 men and women representing adult Israelis, both Jews and Arabs, the university said in a statement. The margin of error was given as 4.2 percentage points.

The poll found that 74% of the public opposes a counterstrike “if it undermines Israel’s security alliance with its allies,” while 26% were in favor of an attack even if it damages ties with allies.

Israeli air defense systems intercept missiles fired from Iran, in central Israel, April 14, 2024. (AP Photo/Tomer Neuberg)

Over half (56%) of respondents believe Israel “should respond positively to political and military demands from its allies” in order to “ensure a sustainable defense system over time,” the statement said. Of the remainder,  32% were undecided, and 12% disagreed.

Also, 59% believe that the US assistance to Israel against the Iranian attack obligates Jerusalem to coordinate future security actions with Washington, while 26% were undecided on the matter and 15% disagreed.

Iran launched its unprecedented direct assault on Israel in retaliation for an April 1 airstrike it blamed on the Jewish state that killed two Iranian army officers generals and several other officers in Damascus.

The clash with Iran came against the backdrop of the ongoing war in the Gaza Strip, accompanying fighting along the Israeli-Lebanese border, and persistent attacks by Iranian proxies in the region.

The Gaza war erupted on October 7 when Palestinian terror group Hamas led a devastating cross-border attack on Israel that killed 1,200 people, mostly civilians. Israel responded with a military offensive to destroy Hamas in the Gaza Strip and free the 253 hostages that terrorists abducted to the coastal enclave during the attack.

Smoke billows from the site of an Israeli airstrike on the southern Lebanese village of Majdel Zoun, on April 15, 2024. (AFP)

The day after the Hamas assault, the Iran-backed Lebanese terror group Hezbollah began attacking along Israel’s northern border, including firing rockets at towns and communities in the area. Israel has responded to the near-daily attacks with strikes on Hezbollah sites in Lebanon, and, allegedly, also related targets in Iran’s ally Syria, which has escalated into direct confrontation with Iran.

As it continues its battle against Hamas, Israel has been pressing ahead with plans for a ground offensive in the southern Gaza city of Rafah, the last Hamas stronghold not yet overrun by the military. However, the operation faces strong opposition from the US and other allies as the population of the city and its environs has swelled to 1.2 million people, including the hundreds of thousands of Gazans who have fled the fighting in other areas of the enclave.

The Hebrew University survey found that 44% of Israelis backed a military offensive in Rafah even “at the cost of a crisis in Israel’s foreign relations” and damaging ties with the US, while 31% were undecided and 25% disagreed.

A tent camp housing Palestinians displaced by the Israeli offensive is seen in Rafah, Gaza Strip, February 27, 2024. (Hatem Ali/ AP)

As for “the day after” the war in Gaza, 43% believe Israel “should rely on its allies” for a future resolution of the matter, the statement said. Of the rest, 33% were undecided and 24% were opposed to relying on allies to solve the issue. Israel has not yet put forward a comprehensive proposal for who will govern the Strip, but insists that it must not be Hamas, which has been the de facto ruler since 2007.

The poll, one of a series titled the “Gaza War Omnibus,” was conducted by the university’s Agam Labs. The surveys aim to capture “the evolving sentiments and perspectives of the Israeli public” amid the war, the statement said.

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