A plurality of Massachusetts residents oppose the military action the Israeli government has taken in Gaza and believe the U.S. government should push for an immediate end to the conflict, according to poll numbers released Tuesday in a GBH News/CommonWealth Beacon poll conducted by MassINC Polling ( toplines, crosstabs).

Of the 1,002 residents surveyed between March 21 and 29, 40% said they opposed Israel’s military action, 34% supported it and 26% responded that they don’t know or refused to answer. A majority of those surveyed said they have been following the conflict either somewhat or very closely, and 47% said they believe that the U.S. government should push for an immediate end to the conflict.

The results reflect the national shift in perspective since the Oct. 7 Hamas attack when around 1,200 people were killed by Hamas and 250 others taken hostage, according to Israeli officials. After backing Israel’s military campaign by a narrow margin in November, a majority of Americans (55%) now oppose the country’s military action in Gaza, according to a national Gallup poll from March 27.

Eli Gerzon, an activist with the Boston chapter of the humanitarian organization Jewish Voice for Peace, says the poll results mirror a recent increase in local advocacy, which they said is the largest they've noticed in their nine years of advocacy.

Activism comes as the civilian death toll continues to rise in Gaza. Between Oct. 7 through the end of March, more than 33,000 people have been killed in Gaza and 75,000 have been injured, according to the Gaza Health Ministry.

“There is a lot of hyper-local organizing happening, led by people who have never done political organizing before, have never met with their representatives or gone to a protest,” Gerzon told GBH News. “I get a lot of hope from seeing people — many of whom are not Arab or Palestinian or Jewish, they’re just human beings who care about this issue — and for the first time in their life, they’re really mobilizing to do something about it.”

Sammy Nabulsi, a Boston-based attorney who has met weekly with his congressional representatives to advocate for the release of U.S. residents and their relatives from Gaza, says he's also pushing for humanitarian aid.

In terms of new polling data, he said the next step is to connect public sentiment with political action.

“I’m having a difficult time getting excited about the change in public opinion, because I don’t know that the Biden White House cares,” Nabulsi said. “They will pretend to care through lip service, but we haven’t actually seen any tangible action to line up with the statements.”

President Joe Biden called for an “immediate ceasefire” in Gaza as part of a hostage deal, according to a statement released Thursday by the White House. The statement — Biden’s strongest rebuke of Israel since the Oct. 7 attack — follows increasing calls for a ceasefire from members of Congress, including several members of the Massachusetts congressional delegation.

On a phone call that day with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Biden said that future U.S. support will depend on Israel taking concrete steps to protect civilians and aid workers.

Simultaneously, Biden continues to push for congressional approval of what would be the largest U.S. arms sale to Israel in years — an $18 billion sale of F-15 jets, munition, training and other military support.

“Our Gaza policy is riddled with paradox,” Nabulsi said. “We seem to always be either calling for a ceasefire or asking [Israel] not to invade a particular area that is being occupied by more than a million Palestinians. But then at the same time, we’re paving the way for them to have the support they need to carry out those operations.”

Sen. Elizabeth Warren, a Massachusetts Democrat who first called for a ceasefire back in November, delivered what might be her strongest rebuke of the Israeli government on Friday at a community meeting at a mosque in Wayland.

When asked by an audience member if she thinks that the Israeli military is “committing a genocide” in Gaza, Warren confirmed that she believes the International Court of Justice has "ample evidence" to classify Israel's actions as a genocide.

“If you want to do it as an application of law, I believe that they will find that it is genocide,” she said.

Warren added that she’s working to move past a “labels argument ... which seems to throw up a screen,” she said.

In January, the International Court of Justice found that it is “plausible” that Israel committed acts that violate the Genocide Convention.

“What is far more important than any label that comes out of this legal process is the question of whether it should be the policy of the United States to support Israel’s actions in Gaza,” a Warren spokesperson said in a statement to GBH News Monday. “Senator Warren believes that Prime Minister Netanyahu and his right-wing war cabinet have created a massive humanitarian disaster in Gaza and have not taken reasonable steps to protect civilians.”

Seven World Central Kitchen workers were killed last week by Israeli strikes, bringing the number of aid employees killed in Gaza to at least 196, according to U.N. Secretary General António Guterres.

In response to the incident, 40 House Democrats sent a letter Friday to the president and Secretary of State Antony Blinken, calling on the Biden administration to deny Israel weapons until an inquiry into the strike is completed and condition new aid “to ensure it is used in compliance with U.S. and international law.”

Jonathan Sarna, a professor of American Jewish history and director of the Schusterman Center for Israel Studies at Brandeis University, says he’s been seeing a shift in opinion over the last several months. Israeli media has continued to focus primarily on hostages, he says, while international media has expanded to prioritize the government’s mission to destroy Hamas.

“Six months have passed, and the context has been lost,” he said. “It’s obviously been distressing that this has gone on so long.”

Sarna says the poll results might have differed if the questions were phrased to include mention of the 130 hostages Hamas has held in captivity since Oct. 7.

“People who fought against Vietnam or Afghanistan will reflexively call for a ceasefire,” he said. “It’s only when people are reminded that there are over 100 hostages there, that changes the equation very much. If those were your children, would you want a ceasefire that would essentially confine those hostages to be permanently held in dungeons in Gaza?”

The Israeli government’s handling of hostage negotiations has been criticized by both Americans and some Israelis, including some family members of hostages who joined mass protests in Tel Aviv last week calling for Netanyahu’s resignation.

Nabulsi says his conversations with families — including those related to hostages — increasingly reflect frustration with Netanyahu’s government.

“The way in which Israel has gone about collectively punishing every civilian in Palestine and for them to not provide assurances that this won’t continue even after all the hostages are released, I have a hard time understanding how that’s Israel’s only objective,” Nabulsi said. “And they’ve said it’s not their only objective. We’re past that point.”

Corrected: April 09, 2024
This story has been updated to clarify a response Sen. Elizabeth Warren gave during a public Q&A. This story was also updated to correct how long Eli Gerzon has been involved with the organization Jewish Voice for Peace.