OTTAWA — A majority of Canadians don’t think lasting peace is possible between Israelis and Palestinians, a new poll suggests.
Slightly more than half of the people responding to the Leger poll said lasting peace isn’t possible, while less than one-fifth said a peaceful solution can be reached.
The number who said peace is not possible hit 62 per cent among the people who also claimed to have a good understanding of the ongoing conflict.
The questions in the poll were designed by Leger in collaboration with the Association for Canadian Studies, and were asked online of 1,548 people in Canada between Oct. 13 and Oct. 15.
Pollsters began gathering responses almost a week after hundreds of Hamas militants launched a multi-pronged attack, with rocket fire and a rampage across the border from Gaza that killed more than 1,400 Israelis and saw some 200 others, including children, taken hostage.
In the days since, Israel has retaliated with its own airstrikes in the Gaza Strip, and it has cut off essential supplies and power to the territory in what its officials call a total siege.
The Hamas-controlled Gaza Health Ministry has said that more than 2,800 Palestinians have been killed, and at least 500 more died in a blast at a hospital on Wednesday. Hamas said Israel was responsible for the blast, while Israel said it was caused by a misfired missile that originated in Gaza.
The Israeli military is expected to soon conduct a ground assault in the territory, with United States President Joe Biden scheduled to visit Israel on Wednesday.
Leger weighted the responses to its survey based on statistical demographics, but the poll cannot be given a margin of error because online polls are not considered true representative samples.
Almost two-thirds of those polled said they were following the events as they unfolded very or somewhat closely, and almost half said they feel they have a good understanding of the conflict.
Conflict between Israel and Palestinians has lasted decades and contributed to significant instability across the Middle East.
The Gaza Strip, a narrow piece of land on Israel’s western border that is roughly the same size as Montreal, has been controlled since 2007 by Hamas, a group the Canadian government has labelled as a terrorist organization since 2002.
Israel and Egypt both imposed a blockade on Gaza after Hamas took over control, limiting movement of goods and people in and out of the territory, which is home to about two million people.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and the Canadian government have condemned the Hamas actions as “a terrorist attack” and back Israel’s right to defend itself, but Ottawa has also been clear in recent days that it expects international law to be respected in Gaza.
It has called for Israel, Egypt and others to allow aid into Gaza, where residents have been cut off from supplies and power for more than a week.
Foreign Affairs Minister Mélanie Joly said Tuesday she is very concerned about what is happening in Gaza.
“I’ve said it many times: Gaza is one of the worst places to live on Earth right now,” she said.
“And so, that’s why we’re really working extremely hard to make sure that there is a humanitarian corridor towards Gaza and also, we called earlier today different G7 partners to increase their funding to the UN, as we just did, because we need to make sure that humanitarian aid is available first, and second, also given to people.”
The Leger poll found 40 per cent of people said they believed Canada’s support to Israel is “about right”, while 10 per cent said Canada isn’t supportive enough to Israel, and 16 per cent said it is too supportive. More than a third, or 34 per cent, said they had no opinion on.
Canada has helped more than 1,300 of its citizens and permanent residents fly out of Israel on military flights, though it has been more difficult to get Canadians out of Gaza and the Palestinian territory known as the West Bank.
Only 21 Canadians have been driven out of the West Bank into Jordan by bus. A corridor to help an estimated 200 Canadians stuck in Gaza has not yet been made available.
The poll found 71 per cent of those surveyed supported Canada’s decision to help people evacuate, though fewer people — 57 per cent — said it is Canada’s responsibility to repatriate its citizens from the conflict zone.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Oct. 18, 2023.
Mia Rabson, The Canadian Press