Gaza war taking heavy mental toll on Arab world, poll shows

Gaza war taking heavy mental toll on Arab world, poll shows
A staggering 97% of respondents said they felt psychological stress during the war on Gaza, with 84% reporting experiencing this to a great degree.
3 min read
10 January, 2024
The Gaza war has prompted protests throughout the Arab world [Mohammed Hamoud/Getty]

A new poll shows Israel's war on Gaza is taking a heavy mental toll on people across the Middle East and North Africa.

The Qatar-based Arab Center for Research and Policy Studies announced on Wednesday the results of the survey of 8,000 men and women from 16 Arab countries, carried out from 12 December to 5 January.

A staggering 97 percent of respondents said they felt psychological stress during the war on Gaza, with 84 percent reporting experiencing this to a great degree.

Almost four in five said they follow news about the brutal campaign every day or several times a week. Israel's war has so far killed more than 23,350 people in Gaza, mostly women and children.

A majority of respondents said Arab governments should suspend ties or normalisation of relations with Israel as the top or second-most-important measure to stop the war.

The survey found delivering aid to Gaza without Israeli permission, and using oil as a weapon to pressure Israel and its supporters were in the top two steps for 30 and 24 percent of people, respectively.

One in five had establishing a global alliance to boycott Israel among their two greatest priorities.

Providing Gaza military aid and announcing military mobilisation were one of the two most important measures for 18 and 11 percent of respondents, respectively.

It comes despite US Secretary of State Antony Blinken saying after talks in Saudi Arabia on Monday that he had discussed normalisation during a tour of regional countries.

"We talked about [Israeli normalisation] actually on every stop, including of course here in Saudi Arabia," he told reporters before flying to Tel Aviv.

"And I can tell you this, there's a clear interest here in pursuing that."

The poll, which drew an example sample of 500 people from each country, was carried out in states including Algeria, Mauritania, Egypt, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Lebanon, and Yemen.

Palestinians in the occupied West Bank and Jerusalem were also surveyed.

The poll found 69 percent of Arabs stand with the people of Gaza and Hamas, the group which launched a 7 October attack that killed 1,300 Israelis. A further 23 percent stand with Gazans but oppose Hamas.

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The survey also demonstrated that 92 percent believe the Palestinian cause is an issue for all Arabs and not just the Palestinian people, up from 76 percent in 2022.

It comes as a separate poll, the results of which were also announced on Wednesday, showed 22 percent of Britons sympathise more with the Palestinian side of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Sixteen percent said they feel closer to the Israeli side, while 32 percent sympathise with both equally and 29 percent don't know.

The survey also found 71 percent of adults in Great Britain feel there definitely or probably should be an immediate ceasefire in Palestine and Israel.

Agencies contributed to this report.