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War on Gaza: Half of young Americans think Israel intentionally kills civilians, survey says

Three-quarters of Americans aged 18-29 say Israel not doing enough to prevent civilian casualties, according to New York Times poll
Demonstrators chant slogans as they march in support of Palestinians in Denver, Colorado, on 5 November 2023.
Demonstrators chant slogans as they march in support of Palestinians in Denver, Colorado, on 5 November 2023 (Jason Connolly/AFP)

Forty-eight percent of young Americans say they believe Israel is intentionally killing civilians amid the ongoing war in Gaza, while three-quarters of them say Israel is not doing enough to avoid civilian casualties, according to a new poll published by The New York Times/Siena College on Tuesday.

The poll showed a wide generational gap between those aged 18-29 who are critical of President Joe Biden's approach to the war in Gaza and support of Israel, and the age group of 65 and up who mostly maintain that the US should continue its support of Israel's military campaign, which has entered its third month.

In most questions polled by The New York Times, younger Americans were critical of Israel's war in Gaza, with nearly 70 percent saying Israel should stop the war even if it doesn't achieve its goals of securing hostages and eliminating Hamas.

The survey also found that more young people, 46 percent, said they sympathised with Palestinians than those who said they sympathised with Israel, 27 percent.

More than 70 percent of young Americans polled also said they disapprove of the way President Biden is handling the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in general.

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The New York Times poll comes two months after war broke out in Gaza, following the 7 October attacks on Israel by Hamas and other Palestinian armed groups based in Gaza. The attack killed 1,200 Israelis and foreign nationals, according to the official government figure. Around 240 people were also taken hostage.

In response, Israel launched a war on Gaza that began with a wide-ranging aerial bombardment of the enclave followed by a ground invasion. Israel's military campaign has so far killed at least 19,667 Palestinians, most of them women and children, according to the Palestinian health ministry.

Israel's bombing campaign has targeted residential areas, schools, hospitals and UN shelters.

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Rights groups have warned that Israel is violating international law and the rules of war, and hundreds of scholars warned early on in the war that Israel is potentially committing genocide against the Palestinian people.

Since the war began, the US has given its full backing to Israel both with diplomatic support and billions of dollars in military aid to the country.

US military support to Israel has come under increased scrutiny after reports emerged that American-supplied white phosphorus had been used by Israel against civilians.

The war in Gaza has also elicited a major response within the US, with mass pro-Palestinian rallies taking place across the country in major cities on a regular basis.

Between 7 October and 26 November, there were 1,869 pro-Palestine protests and other actions compared with 433 pro-Israel rallies and actions that took place within the US, according to the Crowd Counting Consortium, a public service project that tracks nonviolent protests.

Wide disapproval of Biden

As well as the critical views held by young Americans towards Israel, the new poll also found widespread disapproval of Biden's handling of the conflict among all the age groups polled.

More voters, 46 percent, said they trust Donald Trump to do a better job than those who said they trust Biden, 38 percent.

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Fifty-seven percent of Americans polled said they disapproved of the way Biden was handling the issue, though that criticism towards the US president did not extend to disapproval of Israel.

Nearly half of all Americans polled sympathised with Israel, while 20 percent sympathised with Palestinians.

Still, nearly half, 48 percent, of those polled said Israel was not taking enough precautions to avoid civilian casualties and most of the respondents, 44 percent, said Israel should stop its military campaign.

The Biden administration has called on Israel to end its "high-intensity" phase of the war, which Israel has shown few signs of doing so far.

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