Only 15 percent of Israelis want Netanyahu to stay in office after Gaza war: Poll

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Only 15 percent of Israelis want Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to stay in office after the war on Hamas in Gaza ends, though many more still support his strategy of crushing the militants in the Palestinian enclave, according to a poll published on Tuesday.

Netanyahu promised to crush Hamas after its October 7 rampage in southern Israel in which 1,200 people were killed and 240 abducted to Gaza. Israeli forces have laid much of Gaza to waste in their nearly three-month retaliatory offensive.

Netanyahu has said such intense military pressure is also vital to ensure that the remaining 129 hostages still held in Gaza are returned after around 100 were freed in late November in a swap deal also involving hundreds of Palestinian prisoners.

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In the poll conducted by the Israel Democracy Institute (IDI), 56 percent of those questioned said continuing the military offensive was the best way to recover the hostages, while 24 percent thought a swap deal including the release of thousands more Palestinian prisoners from Israel’s jails would be best.

More than 22,000 Palestinians have been killed in the war, according to Gaza health officials, and most of the population displaced. Israel says it has killed some 8,000 Palestinian fighters and has vowed to hunt down Hamas leaders.

But a mere 15 percent want Netanyahu to be prime minister once the war is over, the poll showed. His political rival and present war cabinet partner, centrist Benny Gantz, garnered support from 23 percent of interviewees. Around 30 percent named no preferred leader.

The poll was conducted among 746 respondents between December 25-28, with a 95 percent confidence level, the IDI said. A previous IDI poll in December found that 69 percent of Israelis thought that elections should be held as soon as the war ends.

Netanyahu said on Saturday it would be months before victory is achieved. Successive surveys have found his popularity has fallen sharply since the surprise October attack by Hamas that led to the deadliest day in Israel’s 75 years.

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