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Israeli Opposition to Iran Military Strike Declining, Poll Shows

Israeli opposition to a military strike aimed at halting Iran’s nuclear program is declining as Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu steps up warnings that the country faces a potential threat to its existence.

Some 46 percent of Israelis are against a strike on Iran without U.S. support, according to a poll by the Dialog Institute reported on Channel 10 on Aug. 12. That compares with 58 percent opposed to such a move in a survey by Dialog published March 8 in the Haaretz newspaper. Both surveys questioned 500 Israeli adults.

A poll in the daily Ma’ariv on Aug. 10 found that 35 percent believed that Israel should attack Iran alone if necessary, compared with 19 percent in a July 20 poll. All the polls had a margin of error of 4.5 percentage points.

Netanyahu said on Aug. 12 that the Iranian threat to Israel “dwarfs” all others. The same day the Home Front Command announced that it was testing a nationwide text-messaging system to alert the public of incoming missiles. The Haaretz newspaper reported Aug. 10 that Netanyahu and Defense Minister Ehud Barak are considering a strike on Iran before U.S. elections on Nov. 6. Iranian officials have said that any attack against the country’s nuclear program would prompt retaliation.

Talk of possible conflict “is spreading everywhere,” said Yoram Meital, chairman of Ben Gurion University’s Herzog Center for Middle East Studies in Beersheba. “The discourse over the strike is much larger and deeper than at any other time in the past.”

“Public support is growing for a strike because they are increasingly convinced by Netanyahu that it is either an attack or Auschwitz,” Meital said.

The poll in Ma’ariv found that 37 percent of Israeli Jews believe that if Iran is allowed to gain atomic weapons a second Holocaust is probable.

To contact the reporter on this story: Gwen Ackerman in Jerusalem at gackerman@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Andrew J. Barden at barden@bloomberg.net

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