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Majority say Hamas responsible for Mideast violence: poll

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A majority of Americans believe that Hamas is responsible for the recent violence in Israel, according to a new Harvard CAPS-Harris Poll survey released exclusively to The Hill on Monday.

Sixty percent of respondents blame Hamas, which the U.S. government has designated as a terror organization, for the bloodshed, while 40 percent blame Israel. 

The findings come hours after President Biden announced on Monday that Secretary of State Antony Blinken will travel to the region this week to meet separately with Israeli and Palestinian officials. The move is a part of the administration’s diplomatic efforts after a cease-fire brought an end to 11 days of violence between the two sides last week. 

On the Palestinian side, 248 people, including 66 children, were killed in the conflict as of Friday, Palestinian officials told Reuters. More than 1,900 Palestinians have reportedly been wounded. One Israeli soldier and 12 civilians, including two children, have been killed, according to the Israeli military. 

Biden has reaffirmed U.S. support for Israeli’s security since the cease-fire agreement. The president has also suggested the U.S. will help Israel replenish its Iron Dome air defense system. Fifty-eight percent of respondents said they support Biden’s stance on Israel, while 42 percent said they opposed it. 

But the president is facing pushback from members of his own party, who are calling on him to take a harder line toward Israel for its role in the violence and do more to support the Palestinians. 

A number of progressive lawmakers, including Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), have specifically voiced opposition to the administration’s new $735 million weapons deal with Israel.

“Israel continues to have the support of a majority of Americans but the Democratic Party shows significant fissures as half see Israel as responsible for the recent violence in the Mideast,” said Mark Penn, the director of the Harvard CAPS-Harris Poll survey. “When asked whether Israel has a right to defend itself, however, large majorities said it does and rejected any language of calling Israel and apartheid stage. Biden is seen as having a pro-Israel position and has the support of most Americans.” 

The Harvard CAPS-Harris Poll survey of 1,945 registered voters was conducted from May 19 to 20. It is a collaboration of the Center for American Political Studies at Harvard University and The Harris Poll.

Full poll results will be posted online later this week. The survey is an online sample drawn from the Harris Panel and weighted to reflect known demographics. As a representative online sample, it does not report a probability confidence interval. 

Tags Antony Blinken Bernie Sanders Hamas Hamas-Israel conflict Israel Israeli–Palestinian conflict Israeli–Palestinian peace process Joe Biden Mark Penn Reuters
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