Public thinks Lapid handled Gaza battle well, but no electoral boost — polls

Polls by Israel’s three leading television stations on Monday found that most of the public believes the government, led by Prime Minister Yair Lapid, handled the recent round of fighting in Gaza well, but that this does little to change voting preferences.

According to the surveys, conducted by Channels 12 and 13 and the Kan public broadcaster, if Israel went to the polls today, the country would remain in electoral deadlock, with no one clearly able to form a majority coalition.

A central issue in the upcoming November 1 election is whether to back the popular but deeply divisive former prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu, with several parties pledging unwavering fealty to the current opposition chief, while others have vowed never — or never again — to sit in a coalition with him.

All three polls found the bloc that supports Netanyahu — the Likud, Religious Zionism, Shas and United Torah Judaism — would garner 59 seats, two short of the majority needed to form a government.

At the same time, according to Channel 12 and Kan, the anti-Netanyahu bloc — Lapid’s Yesh Atid, Blue and White, Yisrael Beytenu, Labor, Meretz and Ra’am — would get just 55 seats, six short of a majority. The Channel 13 poll found that the anti-Netanyahu bloc would get 51 seats and the Zionist Spirit party, which is ambiguous about its willingness to sit with the indicted former premier, would receive four seats. Both Channel 12 and Kan had Shaked’s party failing to clear the electoral threshold.

All three polls had the predominantly Arab Joint List, which is highly unlikely to help either bloc form a coalition, getting six seats.

Israeli TV polls have historically been of questionable reliability, but nevertheless indicate trends and often steer the decision-making of politicians.

File: Benjamin Netanyahu (right) and Ayelet Shaked in the Knesset. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Monday’s polls, for instance, demonstrated the deep intransigence in the country’s political camps.

Namely, the findings almost identically matched those of previous surveys, despite the fact that a significant majority of the public believed that the Friday-Sunday offensive against the Palestinian Islamic Jihad terror group in the Gaza Strip was a successful military operation and that Lapid handled the situation well.

According to Channel 13’s poll, 58 percent of Israelis said they thought the operation, dubbed Breaking Dawn, was successful and 63% said it was managed well by Lapid and Defense Minister Benny Gantz, who is also head of the Blue and White New Hope party. Twenty percent said the operation was not managed well.

Similarly, Kan found that 57% of those polled believed that Israel alone won this round of fighting, while 30% said neither side won decisively and 4% said Islamic Jihad won.

According to the IDF, Palestinian terrorists fired over 1,100 rockets toward Israel during the fighting, around 380 of which were intercepted by the Iron Dome missile defense system, with a success rate of 95-97%. The military estimated that around 200 projectiles failed to clear the border and landed inside the Strip.

In a briefing to reporters, an IDF spokesperson said the military believes Israeli strikes killed 35 people in Gaza during the fighting, 11 of them civilians.

Rockets are launched from the Gaza Strip towards Israel, in Gaza City, August 7, 2022. (AP Photo/Hatem Moussa)

According to the military’s estimates, an additional 16 people uninvolved in the hostilities were killed by Gazan rockets that fell short.

The Gaza Health Ministry, run by Hamas, said that at least 45 Palestinians had been killed, including 15 children, and 360 people had been wounded since Friday. Israel is said to believe that as many as 12 of the children killed in Gaza died as a result of rocket misfires by Islamic Jihad.

Several Israelis were lightly injured by shrapnel during the fighting, or while running for shelter when the rocket sirens sounded.

Times of Israel staff contributed to this report.