Credit: Freepik

Czechs Split On Support For Israel’s Military Actions In Gaza, Says Poll

More Czechs hold the Palestinians responsible for the escalation of the current conflict in the Middle East than Israel, according to the results of a February poll published by the Centre for Public Opinion Research (CVVM) yesterday. However, the most common response was to blame both sides equally. 

Early last October, gunmen from the Hamas terrorist movement based in the Gaza Strip attacked Israel, killing over 1,100 people and kidnapping around 240. Israel launched a military offensive in the Gaza Strip in retaliation, which has now killed over 34,000 people, mainly women and children.

In addition, Israel’s almost blanket restrictions of food, water, electricity, and communications in the territory has caused an unprecedented humanitarian crisis and left hundreds of thousands of people without shelter, and at risk of famine and infectious diseases.

International human rights and humanitarian organisations have described the ongoing bombardment as the most deadly conflict of the 21st century so far, and Israel has faced widespread accusations of war crimes, including a case brought at the International Court of Justice (ICJ) by the Government of South Africa alleging that genocide was taking place in the territory.

The CVVM poll found that 35% of the Czech public is interested in developments in the Middle East, similar to 2015, the last time CVVM asked this question. Approximately two-thirds of citizens consider the situation in Israel and Palestine to be a threat to world peace, and just under half consider it a threat to European security. Just over a quarter consider it a threat to the security of the Czech Republic, the survey found.

Two-fifths of Czechs say the two sides are equally responsible for the emergence and escalation of the current conflict. Around 22% of people attribute the main part of the blame to the Palestinians, while 6% to Israel. More than a fifth have no opinion on the matter.

“If we compare the current results with those of earlier surveys that addressed the same issue, we can see stability in the proportion of those who apportion blame equally between the two warring parties,” said CVVM. The proportion of people who place the blame on the Palestinian side saw a gradual decline between 2002 and 2015.

But in the current survey, it increased by 9 percentage points, effectively returning to 2002 levels. The proportion of those who place the blame on the Israeli side fell by 4 percentage points compared to 2015. Conversely, support for the previously rather marginal view attributing blame to an external party in the conflict increased by 7 points. A tenth of respondents now say they have this opinion.

Part of the questions in the survey dealt more specifically with the escalation of the conflict triggered by the Hamas attack on Israel on 7 October and the subsequent retaliatory invasion of Gaza by the Israeli army. The attack by Hamas on Israel is viewed by the Czech public in an unequivocally negative light. Only 4% of those polled described Hamas’ armed action as justified and proportionate, while nearly three-quarters said the attack was illegitimate and disproportionate.

Israel’s actions in the Gaza Strip are less clearly assessed by the Czech public. Around 47% of respondents said it was justified, while 26% disagreed. Respondents were even more divided on the question of whether Israel’s assault on Gaza was appropriate. 34% of respondents said it was appropriate, while 37% thought the opposite.

Meanwhile, there was a relatively high proportion of undecided responses for all questions concerning the legitimacy and proportionality of the parties’ actions in the current conflict, ranging between 25-30%.

The poll surveyed public opinion from 26 January to 11 March. It involved 966 Czech residents over 15.

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