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Gallup: Plurality of Americans Think Israel Is Justified

Image: Gallup: Plurality of Americans Think Israel Is Justified Israeli infantry soldiers hold an Israeli flag after they left the Gaza Strip. (Atef Safadi/EPA/Landov)

By Melanie Batley   |   Tuesday, 05 Aug 2014 09:27 AM

A slim plurality of Americans believe Israel's military actions against Hamas are justified, a view that has changed little over the last few weeks despite the escalation of violence and breakdowns of ceasefires, a new poll has found.

According to a Gallup survey conducted Aug. 2-3 of 1,019 adults, the public remains closely divided over whether Israel's actions are justified, but Americans are mostly critical of Hamas. Specifically, 42 percent of those polled said Israel's actions are justified compared to 38 percent who said they were unjustified, with 21 percent having no opinion.

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By comparison, just 14 percent said the Palestinian attacks against Israel were justified, compared to 66 percent who believe they were unjustified. The poll has a margin of error of 4 percentage points.

A poll taken July 22-23 showed an identical percentage believing Israel was justified, but the percentage of those believing Hamas' violence was justified increased 3 points in the last few weeks.

The results of the survey are also similar to opinions about the Israeli-Palestinian violence in 2002, suggesting that Americans' underlying attitudes about the region may be forming the basis for their reaction to the current conflict in Gaza, Gallup said in a statement.

Israel has been criticized for the scale of its military offensive in Gaza, which has resulted in the deaths of roughly 1,900 Palestinians, mostly civilians, since July 8. By comparison, 64 Israeli soldiers and three civilians have died from Hamas' attacks, The Associated Press reported.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has said Hamas is to blame for the violence, saying the Palestinian group uses civilians as human shields and has also bombarded Israel with rocket attacks.

The poll noted that those who said they are paying closest attention to the conflict are more likely to say that Israel's actions are justified, particularly those who have read or seen a lot or some news about the conflict on television, compared to consuming news through other media.

"In general, Americans rate Israel much more favorably as a country than the Palestinian Territories, and are much more likely to say they sympathize with the Israelis than the Palestinians when asked to choose between the two sides," Gallup said in the statement.

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