News / Middle East

Hamas Popularity Surges Over Gaza, Poll Finds

FILE - A new poll shows strong Palestinian support for Hamas' strategy of armed struggle against Israel. Palestinians carry the body of a Hamas militant killed in an Israeli airstrike in Gaza City in August.
FILE - A new poll shows strong Palestinian support for Hamas' strategy of armed struggle against Israel. Palestinians carry the body of a Hamas militant killed in an Israeli airstrike in Gaza City in August.

Militant group Hamas would sweep Palestinian elections if they were held today after its support soared during seven weeks of war with Israel in Gaza, an opinion poll published Tuesday found.

The independent, nonprofit Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research said its poll showed Islamists clearly leading presidential and parliamentary polls. It marked the first time since Palestinians last voted eight years ago, when Hamas won power in Gaza.

Most Palestinians surveyed said they preferred Hamas' strategy of armed struggle against Israel rather than peace negotiations, which are favored by Fatah, once the dominant Palestinian political movement and one backed by the West.

The views, collected among over 1,000 Palestinians in Gaza and the Israeli-occupied West Bank, show an unprecedented popular shift toward Hamas as tensions with Fatah boil.

Fatah, a largely secular party that governs from Ramallah in the West Bank, accused Hamas on Saturday of putting hundreds of its supporters in Gaza under house arrest during the war and shooting at those who tried to flee Israeli bombings.

The two parties fought street battles in Gaza in 2007, a year after Hamas won parliamentary polls. The fighting left hundreds dead and hardened animosity between the parties.

No national elections planned

There have been no national elections since the split and there are no plans for any, despite steps taken in April to forge a unity government, including a consensus on policies.

The new poll showed Hamas' former premier, Ismail Haniyeh, would win 61 percent of votes in a two-way race against Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas. The Fatah chief would take just 32 percent of the vote, the survey found.

More than half (53 percent) of respondents said an armed approach would help gain a Palestinian state, as opposed to 20 percent who said they supported non-violent means.

Ensconced in Gaza, Hamas has waged three wars against Israel while Fatah has pursued on-off talks, mediated by the United States, which so far have failed to secure an independent Palestinian state in the West Bank, East Jerusalem and Gaza.

Hamas' charter does not recognize Israel and seeks a state in the whole of ancient Palestine, including Israel.

Suspicion between Fatah and Hamas grew earlier this month after Israel's internal security service said it foiled a Hamas plot to launch a coup in the West Bank. Abbas has called for an investigation, while Hamas denies any plot.

A rare rally Saturday by thousands of Hamas supporters in Ramallah passed without incident under the watchful eyes of plain-clothes Fatah forces, although the Islamists complained that several of its backers were arrested afterward.

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Comment Sorting
by: Mark from: Virgiinia
September 02, 2014 1:56 PM
If the Gaza population likes to be used as human shields, more power to them. It sounds as if the whole lot of them are willing to 'pay in blood' to see the end of Israel, and Hamas seems willing to spill the civilian population's blood without thinking twice.I cannot fathom how any single group of people (Palestinians) could so utterly hate another group (Israelis) so much, that they are willing to die to see the other group destroyed. Such reckless blind hatred is not in the realm of a sane individual of sound mind.

I view Hamas as cowardly, not even close to legendary status, if they would use the people around them as shields. Perhaps it is my upbringing, and experience in the military, that you stand and face your foe, not hide behind the skirts of unarmed civilians. Then, to slaughter anyone believed to aid the 'enemy', even on barely circumstantial evidence as someone Else's word, they would execute their own people. Hamas rules by fear, and they will only stay in power as long as the populace fears them. Any showing of courage and resistance against what Hamas wants, and the resisters are killed. That is not how one governs. Hamas must fear its own ability to stay in power, as most dictators do, suspecting everyone and killing anyone who opposes their will. Either that, or they are simply blood-thirsty savages. In either case, they are not Legendary. Not even close.Except in the mind of Islamists. Takes a blood thirsty savage to know one.

That independent non-profit Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research's opinions are clearly swayed and hardly unbiased.
With that sort of thinking, I see no future for Palestinians, as their children will be dead after being used as human shields, if Hamas has their way. Along with the in-fighting between Hamas and Fatah, they are a doomed people. Secular power struggles divides a people and creates more bodies... more 'blood to spill' for the 'cause'.

by: meanbill from: USA
September 02, 2014 11:27 AM
Truth be told... Hamas has become legendary in the Islamic world, and the myth of Israel's invincibility has been debunked, and the Palestinians see a different future for themselves and their children, and they know freedom is possible if they are willing to pay the cost of it with their blood... (Watch out for the Israeli broken promises, though?).... (at least the world is watching what Israel does now).

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