Poll suggests most Israelis want to negotiate for hostages but continue fighting, over 11,000 killed so far

An increasing number of Israelis say the government of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu should immediately begin negotiations with Hamas for the release of hostages held in Gaza – but should continue fighting while negotiating, a new survey suggested. More than 11,000 Palestinians have died in Israel’s strikes on Gaza so far.

Nearly four out of 10 Israelis (38%) expressed the opinion in a survey by the Viterbi Family Center for Public Opinion and Policy Research at the Israel Democracy Institute.

That’s a rise from 32% saying Israel should negotiate while fighting when the survey was last conducted about two weeks earlier.

Another 22% – about one in five – said Israel should not negotiate at all to trade Hamas prisoners in Israeli jails for hostages.

One in 10 (10%) said Israel should negotiate only when the fighting is over, while about one in five (21%) said Israel should begin negotiations immediately, even if it meant halting the fighting.

The survey of 606 men and women was carried out online and by phone on November 5-6, 2023. Some 502 interviews were in Hebrew and 104 were in Arabic. The margin of error on the full sample is four points.

An informed source told the official Israeli Broadcasting Corporation Friday that there has been significant progress in talks to release Israeli hostages.

More than 240 people, including Israeli soldiers and civilians, as well as foreigners from numerous countries, were taken captive by Hamas and other Palestinian armed groups during a deadly assault on Israel on October 7 that Israeli authorities say killed more than 1,500 people.

Five hostages have been released thus far, most of them following negotiations through diplomatic channels with assistance from countries including Qatar and Egypt, and one after a ground incursion by Israeli soldiers inside Gaza.

The Palestinian group Hamas has announced it is ready to conclude a deal on swapping prisoners with the Israeli side.

Hamas Spokesman Hazem Kasem has recently told Al Jazeera the movement is ready to release all the prisoners held by it in exchange to all those held by Israel.

There are 19 prisons within Israel and one inside the occupied West Bank that hold thousands of Palestinian prisoners.

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