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Israel: large majority believe violence between Jewish citizens is 'certain' 

Thousands of people gather to protest in Tel Aviv, Israel on February 04, 2023 [Mostafa Alkharouf/Anadolu Agency]
Thousands of people gather to protest in Tel Aviv, Israel on February 04, 2023 [Mostafa Alkharouf/Anadolu Agency]

A large majority of Israelis believe that polarisation in the country between different political factions could turn violent, while a significant minority have expressed concerns over a civil war, according to a poll commissioned by the Jewish People Policy Institute (JPPI).

Sixty per cent of the respondents believe that violence is "a high to certain likelihood" and 35 per cent – one in three – fear a civil war, Haaretz reported. Only 31 per cent expressed the belief that the chances of violence breaking out over political polarisation are "low to non-existent".

The level of concern about a deterioration towards violence exists in every sector of Israeli society. Jewish Israelis across the political spectrum and covering factors such as age and level of religious practice are all said to be deeply worried about the likelihood of violence.

The findings came as a shock to JPPI President Yedidia Stern, who is reported to have said that he and others at the NGO were initially doubtful that the troubling numbers were realistic. "As we double and triple checked, we found that Israelis don't think the possibility of some sort of violent conflict is just political rhetoric or media spin," said Stern. "It's a real concern."

READ: Gantz accuses Netanyahu of 'coup d'état' and pushing towards 'civil war'

The poll was conducted against the backdrop of ongoing protests over reforms introduced by the far-right coalition led by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Mass demonstrations in the country's capital Tel Aviv have sparked talk of civil war. Last month, senior Israeli figures warned of the possibility of what they called a "fratricidal war" between Jews.

Analysts have described the current crisis in Israel as a consequence of the rise of religious nationalism in the government and the cabinet. Though their numbers have grown, far-right extremists are still supposed to be constrained by the rules of the political system established by the founding fathers of the occupation state, most of whom were secularists led by David Ben-Gurion.

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