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Israeli Resilience in Wartime: A Mixed Picture Emerges

Dr Bruria Adini (Tel Aviv University)

A six-month study conducted by researchers from Tel Aviv University and Tel Hai Academic College has revealed a complex picture of Israeli resilience during the ongoing war against Hamas terrorists in Gaza. The study, which surveyed Israelis at four points between the outbreak of the war and April 2024, shows contrasting trends in personal and national resilience.

On a personal level, Israelis appear to be adapting to the wartime situation. Personal resilience scores increased slightly from 3.65 to 3.69 on a 5-point scale, while morale rose significantly from 2.78 to 3.46. Additionally, the sense of danger and stress symptoms both decreased over the study period.

However, the national outlook presents a more concerning picture. National resilience scores dropped sharply from 4.1 to 3.75 on a 6-point scale. Hope declined moderately, and perhaps most alarmingly, social cohesion plummeted from 3.95 to 2.93 on a 5-point scale.

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The researchers, led by Professors Shaul Kimhi and Bruria Adini from Tel Aviv University and Professor Yohanan Eshel and Dr. Hadas Marciano from Tel Hai Academic College, attribute these declines to several factors:

The prolonged nature of the conflict, which has exceeded the duration of previous wars.
The looming threat of expanded conflict with Hezbollah in northern Israel.
Deep societal divisions over political leadership and the handling of the war.
The ongoing hostage crisis, with 120 individuals still held by Hamas.

The study warns that continued erosion of national resilience could have serious consequences. It may lead to decreased volunteerism, including for military service, and reduced civic engagement. The researchers caution that if public needs and expectations remain unmet, support for leadership could significantly diminish.

“If Israeli society is to overcome the hardships and challenges that still lie ahead, both state institutions and civil society must act now to strengthen solidarity and enhance common denominators shared by all parts of the nation,” the researchers conclude.

This study, presented at Tel Aviv University’s Annual Convention on Israel’s Future, serves as a crucial barometer of Israeli society’s psychological state as the conflict continues. It underscores the need for targeted interventions to bolster national unity and resilience in the face of ongoing challenges.



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