Americans divided over Israel's response to Hamas attack: Survey

Americans are divided on how they feel about Israel’s response to Palestinian militant group Hamas’s surprise on Oct. 7, according to a new survey.

The Associated Press-NORC Center poll, released Wednesday, found that while a large share of Americans view Israel as an ally and put a significant amount of responsibility on Hamas for the conflict, there’s a lack of consensus on public opinion in the U.S. around Israel’s subsequent strikes in Gaza.

More people say Israel is an ally or a partner to the U.S. now than in an August poll. Forty-four percent of respondents in the November survey, up from 32 percent, said the U.S. shares interests and values with Israel as an ally.

The survey also found that 43 percent of respondents believe the U.S. is providing Israel with the right amount of support. Respondents were split along party lines, expressing oppositional views on U.S. involvement for both Israel and Palestine.

Democrats were more likely to say the U.S. is providing Israel with too much support and not enough support for Palestinian civilians in Gaza, while Republicans said the opposite.

Still, the public generally agrees that Hamas is to blame for the conflict. Sixty-six percent of respondents attribute a lot of the responsibility to the militant group, which has been declared a terrorist organization by the U.S. and others, for the war, while 35 percent put the blame on the Israeli government.

In the weeks since the initial attack, the Israeli military has sent a barrage of strikes into the populated Gaza Strip and calls for a humanitarian cease-fire have increased amid fears of more civilian deaths.

About 40 percent of the survey’s respondents say Israel’s response to Hamas has “gone too far,” while 38 percent say it’s been about right. More than half, 58 percent, of Democrats think the response has been too much, while 18 percent of Republicans say the same.

The survey found that in the past few months Americans have developed stronger opinions on Palestine becoming an independent state.

In the August poll, NORC found that 58 percent of respondents neither favored nor opposed Palestine gaining independence. Now, respondents fall in line with party trends, with more strongly opposing and strongly favoring Palestine’s independence than before the conflict began.

Respondents were also more likely to say providing humanitarian relief and preventing harm to civilians was a higher priority than funding military intervention, the poll found.

The highest ranking issue of concern for Americans is recovering the more than 200 hostages held in Gaza by Hamas – which includes some U.S. citizens. Almost double the number of respondents said saving the hostages is a higher priority than providing aid to Israel’s military.

About 1,400 people died in Israel in the initial attacks by Hamas. According to the Gaza Health Ministry, the Palestinian death toll surpassed 10,000 on Monday.

The AP-NORC survey was conducted Nov. 2-6 with 1,239 adults. The margin of error is 3.9 percentage points.

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