Poll Shows Majority of Palestinians Support Kidnapping of Israeli Soldier

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A large majority of Palestinians support the capture of Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit, who was nabbed in a June cross-border raid, according to a poll released Sunday.

The survey by the Jerusalem Media and Communication Center showed 77 percent of those questioned support the kidnapping of Shalit, while 67 percent said they support further abductions in the current political climate.

Almost three-quarters of those polled, about 69 percent, believe the soldier should only be released in return for Palestinian prisoners held in Israeli jails. Only 17 percent said Shalit should be released to avoid an Israeli military incursion into Gaza.

CountryWatch: Israel

Hamas-linked militants captured Shalit on June 25 after an ambush on an Israeli border post in southern Gaza. The militants holding Shalit demanded a large-scale prisoner release by Israel, which Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert again rejected Sunday.

Israel launched an offensive in Gaza on June 28 that has caused widespread destruction, killed 51 Palestinians, and injured more than 180.

The overwhelming support for the soldier's capture came despite an acknowledgment by almost half the respondents that the Palestinians will incur losses as a result of Israel's retaliation.

A total of 1,197 people were interviewed in the West Bank and Gaza Strip between July 6 and July 7. The poll has a three percentage point margin of error.