Most Israelis believe the year-old Gaza closure has not been effective, a new poll found.
The poll commissioned by the human rights groups Gisha-Legal Center for Freedom of Movement and Physicians for Human Rights-Israel found that 83 percent of Israelis believe that Hamas has become stronger since the closure of Gaza in June 2007.
Sixty-eight percent of those polled believe Israel’s security has deteriorated since then.
There is little or no chance that Israel’s policy in Gaza will cause the Palestinian population to bring down Hamas, according to 78 percent of the 600 respondents.
Seventy-nine percent believe the closure primarily affects the civilian population in Gaza and causes hardships in the daily lives of the residents. In addition, 60 percent think the closure is making life so hard for Gaza residents that it is likely to push them toward Islamic extremism, compared to 37 percent who did not agree.
Two-thirds of the respondents said the closure is making Israel’s standing in the world worse.
“There is a striking agreement across political and ideological lines that the closure is likely to drive people towards extremism, and there is a strong consensus that the closure primarily affects civilians but is completely ineffective at causing them to change the Hamas regime,” said independent pollster Dahlia Scheindlin.
The poll of Hebrew-speaking Jewish Israelis was conducted June 1-11. It has a margin of error of 4.5 percent.
Two Israeli soldiers held hostage by Hezbollah are “on their way home,” an Israeli Cabinet minister said.
In the first formal acknowledgement from Jerusalem that a prisoner swap with the Lebanese militia is in the works, Infrastructure Minister Binyamin Ben-Eliezer said Wednesday that Israel will likely have to free jailed terrorist Samir Kuntar, as demanded by Hezbollah, to retrieve Ehud Goldwasser and Eldad Regev.
“Goldwasser and Regev are on their way home, and if that means we have to free Kuntar, then we have to free Kuntar,” Ben-Eliezer told Israel Radio.
He did not say when the deal might be sealed or how the soldiers – who were abducted in a July 12, 2006 border ambush and whose condition is unknown – would be repatriated.
Lebanese media have described a swap as imminent and said it could take place in Germany, which has been mediating between Israel and Hezbollah.
The Archive of the Jewish Telegraphic Agency includes articles published from 1923 to 2008. Archive stories reflect the journalistic standards and practices of the time they were published.