Study: Nearly 50% of Israeli citizens volunteer in wartime

Volunteers package lettuce in Be’er Ganim, near Ashkelon, Nov. 8, 2023. Photo by Yoav Dudkevitch/TPS.

Nearly one in two Israelis continues to volunteer nearly two months into the war with Hamas, according to a survey released on Monday, one day before International Volunteer Day.

Forty-five percent of Israelis have reported volunteering, including 49% of Jewish Israelis and 28% of the Arab sector, according to the Hebrew University of Jerusalem study.

Arabs make up about 20% of Israel’s population.

The rate of volunteerism remains higher than in previous crises, such as during the Covid-19 pandemic when 20% of the Israeli population reported volunteering, and is steady around the record-high number of volunteers during the first month of the war.

A full quarter of the volunteers identified themselves as “spontaneous” volunteers who stepped up due to the war, which broke out on Oct. 7, with only 20% having a history of regular volunteering.

Volunteers reported high rates of satisfaction and relief due to their activities, and expressed a strong intent to continue volunteering post-war.

Nearly half of the volunteers defined themselves as coming from secular backgrounds, surpassing those from the traditional and religious sectors, and a reversal of the pre-war trend, the survey found.

Additionally, a significant number reported above-average incomes, reflecting diverse economic backgrounds among volunteers.

Volunteering during this conflict spans age groups, the survey showed, including 43% of Israelis aged 18–35, 52% aged 35–55 and 47% aged over 55.

Nearly 70% of volunteers have engaged in activities within their local communities, through various affiliations like schools, youth movements and professional groups, the survey found.

“During this tumultuous time, the surge in volunteering reflects a powerful testament to the resilience and unity of Israeli society,” said professor Michal Almog-Bar, head of the Institute for the Study of Civil Society and Philanthropy at Hebrew University, who conducted the survey. “The emergence of diverse volunteering patterns underscores our ability to adapt and collaborate, highlighting the crucial role each individual plays in shaping a stronger, more cohesive community.”