Survey: Trust in IDF soars amid war against Hamas

According to the Israel Democracy Institute, Knesset trust ratings presented the sharpest decline, falling from 24% in June to 19% in December.

By Amelie Botbol | | Topics: Gaza, IDF, Hamas
Israel Defense Forces activity in the Gaza Strip, Feb. 27, 2024. Credit: IDF.
Israel Defense Forces activity in the Gaza Strip, Feb. 27, 2024. Credit: IDF.

The level of trust in the Israel Defense Forces is soaring among both Jewish and Arab Israelis amid the country’s war against Hamas, according to survey published on Thursday.

The Israel Democracy Institute’s yearly Israeli Democracy Index was conducted in June 2023, with some questions then repeated in Dec. 2023 and Jan. 2024 following Hamas’s Oct. 7 massacre.

Among the Jewish public, the IDF received the highest trust rating (86% on average). Municipalities and local government, which took a prominent role in evacuating and resettling residents from the war-ravaged southwest and north, came in second (55% in June, 64% in December), while the president came in third position (54% in June, 61% in December). Similarly, levels of trust in the Israel Police rose significantly after Oct. 7, from 35% in June to 58.5% in December

However, trust in the Knesset presented the sharpest decline, from 24% in June to only 19% in December.

While levels of trust in state institutions are significantly lower among the Arab Israeli public, trust in most institutions has been on the rise since Oct. 7, with the Supreme Court and the IDF ranking first and second respectively. Supreme Court ratings went from 26% in June to 53% in December, while IDF ratings rose from 21% in June to 44% in December.

The survey also shows a substantial increase in trust in the police, possibly explained by a newfound sense of solidarity within both the Israeli and Arab publics following Oct. 7.

Among Jewish respondents, solidarity ratings experienced a jump from a low 4.4 (on a scale from 1 to 10) in June to 7.2 in October, followed by a slight decline to 6.7 in December. The increase was shown on all sides of the political spectrum.

The Arab public also displayed an increased sense of togetherness, with solidarity ratings increasing from 3.6 in June to 4.8 in October and even reaching 5.2 in December.

Around one-fifth of Israelis rated Israel’s situation as either good or very good—21% in June and 22% in December. In the Jewish sample, respondents who identified as left-wing and who rated Israel’s situation as bad went from 73% in June to 63% in December.

Relations between the country’s political right and left remain the top source of tension within Israeli society among Jewish respondents; this rose from 43% in June to 46% in December. Tensions between Jews and Arabs came second (31.5%); in 2021 and 2022 this received the highest ranking. Disagreements between religious and secular Jews were viewed as a source of tension by only 9% of respondents in Decembrer as opposed to 19% in June.

Among Arab respondents, tension between Jews and Arabs topped the list of sources of tension in Israeli society, but declined from 53% in June to 47.5% in December.