Poll: Israeli public opinion vis-à-vis Gaza during the coronavirus pandemic

May 7, 2020. An opinion poll commissioned by Gisha in early April 2020 shows that amid the COVID-19 pandemic, a majority, or at least a plurality, of the Israeli public support a pragmatic approach to Israel’s policy vis-à-vis the Gaza Strip. For years it has been apparent that Israeli politicians and security establishment officials rely on the fact that the Israeli public supports the de facto policy towards Gaza, one of collective punishment and aggression. Decision-makers from other countries, as well as diplomats and representatives of international organizations working in the region, often ask us what Israelis think about Israel’s approach to Gaza. We decided to conduct a poll on Israeli public opinion, at this time, to find out. We learned that a majority of the Israeli public believe that improving living conditions in Gaza serves Israel’s interests, and supports cooperation between Israel and the de facto Hamas government in Gaza to stop the spread of the pandemic. A plurality of the Israeli public is also in favor of easing movement restrictions of people and goods to and from the Strip in order to allow economic development.

The respondents to the poll, a representative sample of Israeli citizens, were asked, on the backdrop of a global economic crisis and the threat of further spread of the coronavirus, whether they support or oppose cooperation by Israel with the de facto Hamas government in Gaza to formulate a shared policy to battle the pandemic. A majority of 54 percent voiced support, compared to only 32 percent who indicated opposition (the remaining respondents did not express a clear opinion). A similar percentage of the public believe that improving living conditions in Gaza serves Israel’s interests, as opposed to only 21 percent who thought improving conditions in the Strip would go against Israel’s interests.

A plurality of respondents, 47 percent, believe that Israel should strengthen Gaza’s economy by means such as allowing the food sector in the Strip to market products in the West Bank, and permitting access to materials and equipment needed in the fishing and farming sectors, including items that are currently prohibited by Israel. Only 37 percent of respondents expressed opposition to these measures.

Public opinion split on the question of whether the battle against the spread of the pandemic reflects a shared fate in terms of health in Israel and Gaza, and whether it points to Israel’s responsibility to take action to curb the spread of the pandemic in Gaza. Forty-two percent supported this notion, as opposed to 43 who opposed it, statistically a tie. The remaining respondents said they did not know how to answer the question.

Israel’s policy of limiting movement of people and goods to and from the Gaza Strip is often framed as a necessary for security. Gisha has shown again and again that access and movement restrictions are mostly politically motivated. A significant portion of the public in Israel has no objection to economic and humanitarian cooperation between Gaza and Israel. At these difficult times, as always, fundamental rights must be protected, regardless of public opinion.

The poll, composed and analyzed by Dr. Dahlia Scheindlin, was conducted online, among a representative sample of Israeli adults (18+), including 500 Jewish respondents (who answered in Hebrew) and 200 Arab respondents (who answered in Arabic). The poll was conducted by New Wave Research between April 6 and 8, 2020.

 

The results were as follows:

  • Following the coronavirus crisis around the world and in the region, the pandemic has begun spreading in the Gaza Strip as well. Given the situation, do you support or oppose Israel working with Hamas officials in Gaza to formulate a shared policy to fight the spread of coronavirus?

Support: 54%

Oppose: 32%

Don’t know: 14%

 

  • Do you support or oppose Israel strengthening Gaza’s economy, by means such as allowing Gaza’s foods industries to sell goods in the West Bank and allowing access to materials needed to rehabilitate the fishing and farming sectors, things which Israel does not currently allow?

 

Support: 47%

Oppose: 37%

Don’t know: 16%

 

  • Given the spread of coronavirus globally and in the region, do you think an overall improvement in living conditions in Gaza would serve Israel’s interests or harm them?

Serve Israel’s interests: 53%

Harm Israel’s interests: 21%

Don’t know: 26%

 

  • Some believe that the coronavirus shows Israel and Gaza share the same fate in terms of health, pointing to Israel’s responsibility to stop the spread of the pandemic in the Gaza Strip. Do you agree or disagree with this position?

Agree: 42%

Disagree: 43%

Don’t know: 15%

 

     

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