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Poll: Majority of Jewish Israelis support executing terror suspects on the spot

A recent poll finds that Israelis Jews believe that Palestinians suspected of carrying out terrorist attacks should be killed on the spot, and that their family’s home should be demolished.

Israeli policemen search a Palestinian man at Damascus gate in Jerusalem's Old City, October 18, 2015. Israel set up checkpoints in the Palestinian neighborhoods of east Jerusalem and mobilized hundreds of soldiers as a collective punishment after recent attacks by Palestinians. (photo: Oren Ziv/Activestills.org)

Israeli policemen search a Palestinian man at Damascus gate in Jerusalem’s Old City, October 18, 2015. Israel set up checkpoints in the Palestinian neighborhoods of east Jerusalem and mobilized hundreds of soldiers as a collective punishment after recent attacks by Palestinians. (photo: Oren Ziv/Activestills.org)

Over half of Jewish Israelis (53 percent) believe that a Palestinian suspected of carrying out a terrorist attack “should be killed on the spot, even if he has been apprehended and no longer poses a threat,” a new survey shows.

The poll, conducted by the Israel Democracy Institute at the end of October, quizzed Jewish Israelis and Palestinian citizens of Israel on their attitudes toward the current wave of violence sweeping the country.

Respondents were questioned on a range of topics, including their attitudes to punishing perpetrators of terrorist attacks; their level of anxiety over the current situation; and possible underlying causes for the present escalation.

Eighty percent of the Jewish public responded that “the home of the family of a Palestinian who has murdered Jews on a nationalist background should be demolished,” while 53 percent said that the homes of Jewish terrorists’ families should not be demolished. By contrast, 77 percent of Palestinians citizens believed that Palestinian terrorists’ homes should not be demolished, while 67 percent responded that Jewish terrorists’ homes should also not be demolished.

The level of fear among the Israeli public was notably divided between Jews and Palestinians, with the latter more likely to report fear of being hurt. While a majority of the Jewish public — 57 percent — responded that they feared either themselves or someone they know being harmed during the current wave of attacks, 78 percent of Palestinians reported the same fear, an overwhelming majority.

Although the respondents were not questioned on what they believed the source of harm would be, the IDI interpreted the high level of anxiety among the Palestinian public as potentially being a fear of attacks by Jewish Israelis.

First responders remove the body of a Palestinian man who carried out a stabbing attack in Jerusalem. Police shot him dead, October 12, 2015. (Oren Ziv/Activestills.org)

First responders remove the body of a Palestinian man who carried out a stabbing attack in Jerusalem. Police shot him dead, October 12, 2015. (Oren Ziv/Activestills.org)

Given the high levels of support among Jewish Israelis for attacks on Palestinian perpetrators, as evinced by the poll results, the IDI concluded that the fears of Israel’s Palestinian population are understandable. Furthermore, there is a prevalent perception among Palestinians on both sides of the Green Line that Israeli security forces are simply shooting them in the street and then fabricating claims of stabbings or attempted stabbings in order to justify the killings.

In the same vein, so-called “reprisal attacks” against Palestinians (which have on occasion been mistakenly directed at Jews) as well as lynch attempts have cultivated a generalized sense of fear among Palestinians in Israel proper and in the occupied territories. Calls from the Israeli security and political establishments for Jewish citizens to arm themselves along with the government’s apparent indulgence towards right-wing violence have also contributed to Palestinians’ fears.

The poll also revealed that a large minority of Jewish Israelis (38 percent) believe that Jews should be allowed to pray on the Temple Mount/Haram al-Sharif, even in the current situation. This reinforces a separate finding of the poll that only 23 percent of the Jewish public believes that Palestinian despair over a lack of progress in peace talks is behind the spike in attacks. Half of Palestinian citizens of Israel, on the other hand, believe that the two are connected.

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