US public closely divided over West Asia crisis: Poll | india | Hindustan Times
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US public closely divided over West Asia crisis: Poll

india Updated: Aug 09, 2006 02:13 IST

The traditionally pro-Israel US public is closely divided on the Jewish state's battle with Lebanon's Hezbollah militia, a new poll showed.

Forty-six per cent of Americans surveyed blame Israel and Hezbollah equally for the conflict, whereas 39 per cent blame Hezbollah alone, according to the ABC News/Washington Post poll released late on Tuesday night.

Israel itself has blamed Hezbollah for starting the fight on July 12 when it kidnapped two Israeli soldiers on the border between the two countries.

Israel immediately responded by bombing and shelling Lebanese targets, and Hezbollah began launching rockets into northern Israel.

The fighting, which has escalated since then, has killed over 1,000 people, including around 100 in Israel and the rest in Lebanon. Around a million people have been left homeless in Lebanon due to the Israeli offensive.

The poll found Americans nearly evenly split on whether Israel's intense bombing of Lebanese targets to eliminate Hezbollah's ability to launch rocket barrages against Israeli targets was justified.

In the poll, 47 per cent said Israel was justified in its bombing campaign, against 48 per cent who were opposed.

But people were more strongly on Israel's side regarding the shape of an immediate ceasefire being sought by leaders of the international community.

Fifty-five per cent said Israel should halt its attacks only if Hezbollah disarms first, while only 35 per cent thought Israel should agree to an immediate, unconditional halt to fighting.