WASHINGTON (WNEW) — Amid calls for a cease-fire in in the Gaza Strip, more than twice as many Americans say that Hamas (40 percent) is responsible for the current violence in comparison to just 19 percent who blame Israel.

After failing to secure a peace deal in Gaza last week, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry is attempting to uphold a temporary cease-fire that he’s hoping will initiate Israeli and Palestinian negotiations. But U.S. voters in a new Pew Research Center poll show a wide political divide on the issue in addition to substantial support for Israel in the Middle East conflict.

The Pew survey conducted from July 24-27 shows that 60 percent of Republicans say Hamas is most responsible for the current violence, while less than half of that percentage of Democrats (29 percent) agree with Hamas’ responsibility.

Overall, 28 percent of Americans polled said they don’t know who is to blame and 14 percent blame both sides for the continuing violence that has left thousands dead in recent weeks.

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As of July 29, there have been 1,148 recorded Palestinian deaths and 56 Israeli deaths as a result of the most recent airstrike, rocket and other attacks between Israel and Hamas, according to The New York Times.

Wide partisan differences divide Americans on the cause of the current Gaza violence.

Nearly half of Republicans (46 percent) say Israel’s response has been about right while another 19 percent say it has not gone far enough. Only 16 percent think Israel’s response has been excessive. For Democrats, 35 percent say Israel has gone too far while 31 percent says they have responded appropriately. Only 9 percent of Democrats think Israel hasn’t done enough.

Nearly three quarters of Republicans (73 percent) said they sympathize more with Israel than the Palestinians, compared with 45 percent of independents and 44 percent of Democrats.

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Liberal Democrats are among the most likely to view Israel’s response as having gone too far: 44 percent say Israel has been excessive with their response actions against Hamas.

In addition to partisan politics, there are wide gaps in Gaza support based upon racial and age differences.

By nearly a two-to-one margin – 40 to 22 percent – white Americans consider Israel’s actions to be correct rather than having gone too far. But among blacks and Hispanics, 36 percent to 28 percent gaps show Israel has gone too far. About one-third of Americans under age 50 said Israel’s actions have been excessive.

According to Pew data, when fighting flared between Israel and Hamas in January 2009, 50 percent of Americans said the Israeli response to the conflict was about right compared with 24 percent who thought it went too far.

Benjamin Fearnow

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