10 years into the closure of Gaza – a new public opinion poll reveals:
A majority of the Israeli public believes that the government’s policy in Gaza has undermined security; Economic improvements in Gaza would decrease levels of hostility and violence toward Israel
– Two-thirds of the public believe Israel’s policy in Gaza has undermined security; 69 percent of the public believe that improving living conditions there “serves Israel’s interests.”
– Fifty-seven percent of the public prefer alleviating restrictions on the civilian population to tightening the closure.
Sunday, February 26, 2017: A public opinion poll commissioned by Gisha reveals that 67 percent of Israelis believe that the closure of Gaza has undermined security. Half of respondents believe that, contrary to Israel’s proclaimed objectives, the closure has strengthened the regime in Gaza.
A large majority of the public (76%) acknowledges that Israel controls sea and air access to the Strip as well as its land crossings, with the exception of Rafah Crossing, and that it controls Gaza’s ability to import and export goods. Half of the public (51%) believe Israel’s control over the Strip, which directly impacts living conditions in Gaza, gives rise to responsibility for the well-being of its residents.
Most respondents (57%) support the position expressed by senior military officials whereby “easing restrictions on Gaza would decrease despair and tension, making the situation less volatile.” Only 41 percent preferred statements made by politicians to the effect that “the more isolated Gaza is and the tighter the closure on it, the more Israel succeeds in reducing the security threat.” With respect to Israel’s policy in the Gaza Strip, most of the public (73%) place more trust in military officials than politicians.
In response to the question of whether an improvement in Gaza’s economic situation would increase hostility and violence toward Israel or decrease it, a clear majority (70%) responded that economic improvement would decrease hostility. An additional 69 percent of respondents think enhancing living conditions in Gaza would serve Israel’s interests, as opposed to a minority of 27 percent who believe this would harm Israel’s interests.
Despite a complete ban on travel of students from Gaza to the West Bank in place since the year 2000, the poll also indicates that a majority of the public (54%) support allowing a student from Gaza who has no security record to reach institutions of higher education in the West Bank.
The poll was designed by public opinion researcher Dr. Dahlia Scheindlin, at the request of Gisha. Responses were collected by New Wave Research of 650 respondents (a representative sample of 500 Jews,150 Arabs).
Dr. Scheindlin explains that, “the government’s policy is not supported by the majority of the public. The public is pragmatic and makes the connection between the needs of the civilian population and the level of tension and violence. Correspondingly, most of the public is prepared to ease restrictions when there is no apparent security threat. The understanding that improving living conditions for Gaza residents serves Israel’s interests is present in all sectors and cuts across political camps and positions.”