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    CNN Poll: Americans are deeply sympathetic toward Israelis and see their military response to Hamas attacks as justified

    Aris Messinis/AFP/Getty Images

    Israeli army Puma armored personnel carriers move in a column near the Gaza border in southern Israel on October 14, 2023.



    CNN
     — 

    The American public expresses deep sympathy for the Israeli people and broadly sees the Israeli government’s military response to Hamas’ attacks as justified, according to a new CNN poll conducted by SSRS, and two-thirds are at least somewhat worried the fighting between Israel and Hamas could lead to terrorism in the US. The poll also finds divisions by party and age in how Americans view the conflict and the US response to it.

    The public is mixed over how much trust it has in President Joe Biden to make the right decisions on the fighting between Israel and Hamas (47% have at least a moderate amount of trust), but they express slightly more confidence in Biden than they did at the outset of the war in Ukraine (42%).

    Half of Americans (50%) say that the Israeli government’s military response to the Hamas attacks is fully justified, another 20% say it’s partially justified and just 8% that it is not at all justified, with 21% unsure. Republicans are far more likely than independents or Democrats to say the response is fully justified (68% of Republicans say so compared with 45% of independents and 38% of Democrats), and older Americans are also much likelier than younger ones to say it is completely justified (81% of those age 65 or older see the response as fully justified, compared with 56% of 50-to-64-year-olds, 44% of 35-to-49-year-olds and 27% of 18-to-34-year-olds). Majorities across age and party, though, say the Israeli response is at least partially justified, with very few Americans of any age or party affiliation saying the response is not at all justified.

    A sizable 71% of Americans say they feel a lot of sympathy for the Israeli people over the attacks by Hamas on October 7, with nearly all, 96%, expressing at least some sympathy for them. A broad majority also feel at least some sympathy for the Palestinian people (87%), but fewer feel a lot of sympathy for the Palestinians (41%). Nearly all Americans (84%) express at least some sympathy for both Israeli and Palestinian people as they face ongoing fighting.

    But here too, there are divides by age and party, with younger Americans and Democrats likelier to express a lot of sympathy for the Palestinian people than Republicans and older Americans. Majorities across party lines express a lot of sympathy for the Israeli people (78% of Republicans, 68% of independents and 67% of Democrats), but there is a broad gap between the share of Democrats (49%) and independents (47%) who have a lot of sympathy for the Palestinian people and the share of Republicans who say the same (26%).

    The division by age appears even wider: Among those age 65 or older, 87% have a lot of sympathy for the Israeli people, while 36% feel the same toward Palestinians. Among those younger than 35, 61% say they have a lot of sympathy for the Israeli people and nearly the same share, 54%, say the same about the Palestinian people.

    Few Americans express a great deal of trust in Biden to make the right decisions on the situation in Israel (16%), with about 3 in 10 saying they trust him moderately (31%), 26% saying they have not much trust and 28% none at all. There are broad partisan gaps, with 80% of Democrats saying they trust Biden a great deal or moderately, compared with 46% of independents and just 13% of Republicans. The overall partisan divide is similar to the levels of trust placed in Biden to handle the war in Ukraine at its outset, but independents appear a bit more inclined to express trust in Biden now than they were around the start of the war in Ukraine (46% have at least a moderate amount of trust in Biden, 37% said the same in February 2022 on Ukraine).

    About a third of all US adults, 35%, say the US is providing the right amount of assistance to Israel in response to the situation there, with 15% saying the US is providing too much assistance, 14% too little and another 36% unsure about whether the level of assistance is appropriate. Among those who say they are very closely following news about the conflict, 51% say US assistance is about right, 21% say it’s too little, 7% too much and 21% are unsure.

    Two-thirds of Americans (66%) say they are at least somewhat worried that the fighting between Israel and Hamas will lead to terrorism in the US. Older Americans (75% of those age 65 or older), women (72%) and Republicans (76%) appear most likely to be worried about the potential for terrorism in the US.

    About 7 in 10 Americans, or 71%, say they’ve been following news about the fighting between Israel and Hamas at least somewhat closely, including 26% who are following it very closely.

    The CNN poll was conducted by SSRS from October 12-13 among a random national sample of 1,003 adults surveyed by text message after being recruited using probability-based methods. Results for the full sample have a margin of sampling error of plus or minus 4.0 percentage points. It is larger for subgroups.

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