Israeli views of Gaza war split, Pew Research finds – The Washington Post

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A majority of Israelis support their country’s military response to Hamas in Gaza but are divided over its scope, according to a survey by Pew Research published Thursday.

The survey found 39 percent of Israelis said that the country’s military response against Hamas in Gaza has been about right, and 34 percent said it has not gone far enough — indicating continued support for the war. Another 19 percent said they think it has gone too far. The survey was conducted between March 3 and April 4, mostly before Israeli airstrikes killed seven aid workers for the charity group World Central Kitchen and predating last weekend’s airstrike in Rafah that killed at least 45 Palestinians.

More than 36,000 Palestinians have been killed in Gaza since the war started, according to the Gaza Health Ministry, which does not distinguish between civilians and combatants. The Oct. 7 attack on Israel by Hamas killed about 1,200.

This week, in one of the most horrifying scenes of the war, an Israeli strike in southern Gaza’s Rafah killed at least 45 Palestinians, some of whom burned alive, according to the Gaza Health Ministry. Israel said the attack was a “targeted” strike against two Hamas militants and that it was investigating the “unexpected and unintended fire” at the camp.

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Though opinions on the military response differed, most Israelis expressed confidence that Israel will be able to achieve its goals in the fight against Hamas, the Pew survey found. There was, however, shared concern about the duration and scope of the war. Just under 7 in 10 are seriously concerned about the war lasting a long time, the survey found.

Laura Silver, associate director of research at Pew, said that the results of the poll showed that Israelis remained broadly optimistic about the war in Gaza, though people across Israeli society perceived the war in vastly different ways.

“People who have a favorable view of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu are much more likely to say that the military response to Hamas has been about right or has not gone far enough than those who have an unfavorable view of him,” Silver said.

On Wednesday, Israel’s national security adviser, Tzachi Hanegbi, told Kan public radio that he was expecting “another seven months of fighting” in Gaza to eliminate Hamas and other militant groups.

In the poll, there was a lack of clear consensus among Israelis over the future of governance in Gaza. Forty percent said Israel should govern the enclave after the war, and 18 percent said the Palestinian Authority, which administers parts of the Israeli-occupied West Bank, should be in charge of Gaza, the poll found.

Palestinian citizens of Israel are sharply split on the matter with Israeli Jews. Most Palestinian citizens of Israel said either the people in Gaza should make that decision or approve of the Palestinian Authority running it.

Netanyahu has been widely criticized for his government’s lack of a postwar political strategy for Gaza. Defense Minister Yoav Gallant and war cabinet member Benny Gantz have in recent weeks ratcheted up the heat on Netanyahu over this issue.

A growing share of Israelis — 58 percent — hold a negative view of Netanyahu, who has faced mass anti-government protests for failing to bring back all the hostages kidnapped by Hamas militants on Oct. 7. That’s a jump of 6 percentage points from last year and the highest since Pew first started asking this question in 2013, the Pew Center said.

Many Israelis also appeared critical of President Biden’s handling of the war in Gaza, with 60 percent expressing disapproval. In the United States, Biden is facing stiff domestic pressure and scrutiny from some Democrats and supporters over his policies on Gaza amid a high civilian death toll and catastrophic humanitarian crisis.

But Israelis want the United States to play a major role in diplomatically resolving the war, higher than that of any other country; 72 percent favored the United States for the task, compared with 38 percent support for European countries. Egypt, which has been involved in negotiations over a cease-fire deal between Israel and Hamas, received support from 45 percent Israelis, higher than the United Nations and other regional countries like Qatar and Saudi Arabia.

The Pew Research Center survey was conducted through face-to-face interviews with a random sample of 1,001 Israeli adults; the margin of sampling error is plus or minus 4 percentage points for overall results.

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