How could hundreds of pre-election polls in Israel be so wrong? Actual voting is different than opinions shared with pollsters. Much of the bellicose verbiage of the right wing parties resonated with the “resiliency” that the average Israeli is supposed to display after weathering a harrowing war experience. Israelis weren't voting with their feet by emigrating, but they definitely voted with their ballots and displayed higher vother turnouts.
Essentially, moderating self-preservation impulses were what ultimately was expressed in the voting booths. Even the fighting elite such as the Israeli Air Force, seemed to have let moderating impulses guide their votes. As Aluf Benn of Haaretz writes:
Most voters at air force-base polling stations preferred Lapid over Netanyahu. Is this because they are more moderate, or because of the implication of the premier's threats against the Islamic Republic?
Five of the past six elections have had an unilateral Israeli-initiated military actions, when there had not been or was no extraordinary impending threat on Israel’s civilians, such as the assassination of Hamas’ Ahmed Jabari as he was in the middle of maintaining and negotiating an expanded ceasefire with Israel.
In the nine weeks before the 2013 elections Israelis discovered that rockets locally made in a sieged Gaza had achieved longer ranges that included Tel Aviv and Jerusalem. That new fact may have have nagged many Israelis to take a step back and vote for a “moderate” new personality, Yair Lapid, who laid down right after the election as his opening gambit in coalition talks were the predictable ending the yeshiva military exemption and—surprise (as J.J. Goldberg points out)—reopening peace negotiations with the Palestinian Authority.
Lapid is listening to his electorate who woke up in the morning deciding to vote for him after telling pollsters something else for months.