Americans are increasingly split on Israel's ongoing military action in the Hamas-led Gaza Strip, a new Gallup poll suggests, as more and more reports have emerged of civilian casualties.
The exact wording of Gallup's question was: "Do you think the Israeli actions in the current conflict with the Palestinian group Hamas over the past few days have been – [ROTATED: mostly justified (or) mostly unjustified]?"
The result is a close one: 42 percent say Israel's actions have been justified, 39 percent say the actions have been unjustified, a gap that is within the poll's margin of error of plus or minus 4 percent. The survey of American adults was conducted July 22 and 23.
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The poll's sub-groups also shows a genuine partisan divide: A clear majority of Republicans say that Israel's actions have been justified; but among both Democrats and independents, pluralities say that Israel's actions are not justified.
By contrast, Hamas doesn't have many American friends at all. The corresponding question for the actions of Hamas results in only 11 percent who say they have been justified, against a whopping 70 percent who say they are not justified. Israel has claimed that Hamas is actually the party responsible for civilian casualties, accusing the group of intentionally using the population as human shields — as well as for having launched the many rocket attacks to which Israel is responding in the first place.
This poll result seems to differ from a CNN poll released on Monday, which showed 57 percent of Americans saying Israel was justified. On close inspection, though, that poll asked a much more broadly phrased question, about Israel having a general right of military response, rather than the specific actions taken: "Do you think Israel was justified or unjustified in taking military action against Hamas and the Palestinians in the area known as Gaza?" This might account for some part of the difference between the two polls.
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