More than half of Israelis fear that war with Iran would endanger the Jewish State's very existence, a new poll has found.
It is a startling finding that will worry Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who has argued that a pre-emptive strike on Iran's nuclear facilities may be necessary to prevent it from obtaining the atom bomb.
It also suggests that few were convinced by Defence Minister Ehud Barak's surprising assertion last November that Israel would suffer fewer than 500 casualties were Iran to retaliate to an Israeli attack.
Undermining the calls for military action from the government are the sober warnings from retired defence officials, who fear that a pre-emptive strike would precipitate a new Middle East war, the consequences of which would be impossible to predict.
The Tel Aviv University poll, published in Israel's Haaretz newspaper, found that a majority of Israelis thought the likelihood of a conflict with Iran “high” or “medium,” while half either feared or “greatly” feared for Israel's existence. The newspaper did not provide a detailed breakdown of the poll's findings.
But even as Israelis appear to accept the inevitability of a showdown with Iran, the poll suggested that it would not affect Mr Netanyahu's ability to form a coalition government if elections were held today.
Mr Netanyahu has stepped up his rhetoric in Iran in recent weeks, and tried unsuccessfully to push Washington to set “red lines” over Iran, a demand dismissed by President Barack Obama in a recent interview as “noise.”