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52 percent of UK voters say Israel violence in Gaza ‘disproportionate’

Published time: August 12, 2014 15:41
A Palestinian woman sits on August 11, 2014 with two boys at the edge of a crater left where her home used to be and which was completely demolished by an Israeli airstrike in Jabalia, northern Gaza Strip. (AFP Photo / Roberto Schmidt)

A Palestinian woman sits on August 11, 2014 with two boys at the edge of a crater left where her home used to be and which was completely demolished by an Israeli airstrike in Jabalia, northern Gaza Strip. (AFP Photo / Roberto Schmidt)

A majority of British voters believe that Israel is using disproportionate violence in the Gaza conflict, and 41 percent say their opinion of Israel has dropped, according to a new poll.

The Guardian/ICM poll, which was published Tuesday, found that due to its military operation in Gaza, Israel's standing in the UK has significantly worsened. The poll found that 52 percent of voters believe that Israel acted disproportionately when it launched airstrikes against the Gaza Strip.

By contrast, 19 percent of respondents thought Israel had acted proportionately in retaliating to Hamas rocket fire with air and artillery strikes, while 29 percent did not know.

According to the poll, 41 percent of voters say their opinion of Israel has worsened during the recent conflict and 48 percent still think the same way about Israel. Only 2 percent reported that their opinion of Israel has actually improved.

In contrast, a fifth of those questioned – 21 percent – said their opinion of the Palestinians has worsened while just 9 percent say their opinion has improved, despite widespread international condemnation of the Israeli actions and support for the plight of Palestinian civilians killed in the Israeli air raids. A clear majority, 60 percent, said their opinion of the Palestinians had not changed, while 9 percent did not know.

The poll did not distinguish between Hamas, which controls the Gaza Strip, and the Fatah faction of the Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas, which controls the West Bank. Rather, it just asked voters for their opinion on “the Palestinians.”

ICM Research interviewed a random sample of 1,002 adults aged 18 and over across the country.

Reuters / Luke MacGregor

Meanwhile, Tuesday’s polling information reinforces Baroness Warsi’s decision to resign from the government over its "morally indefensible" Gaza policy last week.

Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg endorsed some of Warsi's criticisms of David Cameron’s Gaza policy as he called for the suspension of arms export licences to Israel. Clegg also described Tel Aviv's military response as disproportionate.

In his reply to Warsi after her resignation, Prime Minister David Cameron described the situation in Gaza as "intolerable" as he raised concerns about "the heavy toll of civilian casualties." But he said Israel had the right to defend itself.

A recent report by the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) said that as of 10th August, 1,948 Palestinians had been killed and 66 Israelis since Israel launched Operation Protective Edge on 8th July. Of those Palestinians, at least 1,402 were civilians, including 456 children and 237 women, the UN body reported. However, other experts have raised concerns about the accuracy of casualty figures in war zones.