Israel-Hamas war: Israelis’ views of the conflict – Pew Research Center

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At the time of the survey in March and early April, Israelis voiced differing views of the war. Reactions to the military response against Hamas were generally mixed, as were attitudes toward the principal decision-makers – the three members of Israel’s war cabinet. However, most Israelis shared concerns that the war could expand across the region and last a long time.

Views of the Israeli military response against Hamas

When asked to assess their country’s military response against Hamas in Gaza, about four-in-ten Israelis say it has been about right. Another 34% say it has not gone far enough, while 19% say it has gone too far.

Israeli Arabs are much more critical of the military response, with 74% saying it has gone too far. Only 4% of Israeli Jews agree.

Views of the military response are divided along ideological lines. Roughly half of those who place themselves on the right (52%) say the military response has been insufficient. About a quarter of those in the center (24%) agree and only 9% of Israelis on the left say the same.

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On the other hand, a majority of Israelis on the ideological left (55%) say the military response to Hamas has gone too far. Only 15% of those in the center and 5% of those on the right share this view.

Among Israelis who have a favorable view of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, roughly half (49%) say the response to Hamas has been about right, but another 45% say it has not gone far enough. Only 1% of those who favor Netanyahu think the military response has gone too far.

Attitudes toward Israel’s war cabinet

A bar chart showing that Israelis have the least positive views of Netanyahu compared with the other war cabinet members

In the days following the Oct. 7 attack on Israel, the country’s then-governing coalition struck a deal with National Unity, an opposition party, to join an emergency government. The leader of the party, Benny Gantz, together with Netanyahu and Minister of Defense Yoav Gallant, formed the core of the new war cabinet, which was tasked with navigating the course of the conflict. (The survey was conducted before Gantz threatened to leave the war cabinet.)

Of the cabinet’s three voting members, Gallant enjoys the most public support in our survey: 61% of Israelis say they have a very or somewhat favorable view of him. Around half say the same about Gantz. As for Netanyahu, approximately four-in-ten Israelis have a positive view of the prime minister. 

For more on views of Palestinian leaders, refer to Chapter 3.

A line chart showing that Netanyahu’s favorability among Israelis is at its lowest level in Center polling, from 2013 to 2024

The majority of Israelis (58%) see their prime minister in a negative light. The share of Israelis who have a somewhat or very unfavorable view of Netanyahu is the largest it has been since the Center first started asking the question in 2013, up 6 percentage points from last year.

Related: A growing share of Americans have little or no confidence in Netanyahu

Netanyahu’s favorability ratings have fallen among Jews and Arabs alike. However, roughly half of Israeli Jews still see him positively, compared with only 7% of Israeli Arabs.

Favorability among right-leaning Israelis – the mainstay of Netanyahu’s political coalition – has also declined. In this group, 69% have a favorable view of Netanyahu, compared with 85% last year.

A dot plot showing that Israeli Jews mostly favor war cabinet members, while Israeli Arabs are much more skeptical

Views of the three members of Israel’s war cabinet vary by ethnicity, ideology and levels of religious observance.

  • About three-quarters of Israeli Jews have a favorable view of Gallant, but only 9% of Israeli Arabs agree. Of the three war cabinet members, Gantz has the highest share of support among Israeli Arabs (30%).
A dot plot showing that Israelis across the ideological spectrum have differing views about members of the country’s war cabinet
  • Among those on the ideological right, about two-thirds have a favorable view of the prime minister. Only 18% of centrists and 8% of those on the left share this view. Gantz, a centrist party leader, is favored by 71% of Israelis in the center and a smaller majority (56%) of those on the left.
  • Most Hiloni (“secular”) Jews in Israel (76%) say they have a favorable view of Gantz – more than double the share of Haredim (“ultra-Orthodox”) and Datiim (“religious”) who say the same (32%). Netanyahu, who relied on religious parties and their voters to build his governing coalition, is seen favorably by 88% of Haredi and Dati Jews, but by only 21% of the Hiloni public.

Most who have a favorable view of the prime minister feel similarly about Gallant, his minister of defense and fellow Likud member (84% have a favorable view of him). Gantz has less appeal among those who express a favorable view of Netanyahu – only about a third in this group also hold a favorable view of his political rival.

Current concerns about the war

Thinking about the course of the war, most Israelis express a great deal of concern about its scope and duration.

A bar chart showing that Israelis are highly concerned about the spread and duration of the Israel-Hamas war

Around six-in-ten are extremely or very concerned about the war expanding to other countries in the region, and about seven-in-ten are seriously worried about the war lasting a long time. (The survey was fielded amid escalating conflict along Israel’s border with Lebanon but prior to Iran’s missile attack on Israel in mid-April.)

Jewish and Arab Israelis are equally concerned that the war might expand to other countries (61% in each group voice this concern), though Arabs are slightly more likely than Jews to say they worry about a long war (77% vs. 66%).

Approximately a quarter of Israelis on the ideological left and in the center are extremely concerned about the war expanding across the region – roughly double the share of right-leaning Israelis who express the same level of alarm.

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