Nearly four out five Israelis view a nuclear-armed Iran as an existential threat to their country, while about three-fifths favor a military strike on Iran to thwart its atomic program, according to a new survey.
In a poll of 505 Israelis by Professor Camil Fuchs of Tel Aviv University for the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, 77 percent believe Iran presents a grave threat to Israel's existence; 60 percent think only a military attack on Iran will stop its nuclear program; and 66 percent have confidence in the ability of the Israel Defense Forces to destroy Iran's atomic program.
The survey indicated that Israeli men tend to favor an attack on Iran more than women do.
Israel's Haaretz newspaper speculated that this gender gap might raise interesting questions for the Israeli government's cabinet, which would ultimately be responsible for ordering an Iranian military strike. At present there are no women ministers in the cabinet of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
The poll also revealed that 60 percent of Israelis believe the United States itself will act militarily against Iran in the event that Western economic sanctions fail to stop the Islamic republic from developing its nuclear capabilities. Iran claims it is working to develop a nuclear capability strictly for peaceful purposes such as energy.
In addition, 65 percent of Israelis think the price the country would have to pay for living under the threat of an Iranian nuclear bomb is greater than the price that would be incurred if the IDF attacked Iran's nuclear sites.
Three-fourths of Israelis also believe Iran's nuclear program will embolden Israel's other enemies in the Middle East. That is, if the Iranians build an atomic bomb, the Palestinians and Hezbollah in Lebanon will become even more belligerent toward the Jewish state, those respondents say.
Western leaders have been trying to persuade Israel to refrain from attacking Iran and allow economic sanctions and diplomacy time to work so that a non-military resolution can take effect.
However, U.S. President Barack Obama recently warned that Iran's window of time to resolve the crisis is rapidly closing.
Netanyahu and Israel's defense minister, Ehud Barak, have repeatedly adhered to a hawkish stance against Iran, suggesting a strike is a matter of when, not if.