Support for Hamas surges among Palestinians: poll

Support for Hamas surges among Palestinians: poll
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Support for Hamas has surged among Palestinians since the militant group’s 11-day conflict last month with Israel, according to a new poll released Tuesday by the Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research. 

The study, which included in-person interviews with 1,200 Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza last week, found that about 53 percent believe Hamas, which the U.S. considers a terrorist organization, is “most deserving of representing and leading the Palestinian people.” 

Comparatively, just 14 percent said the same of President Mahmoud Abbas’s Fatah party, which was largely pushed aside during the May conflict but is seen by many international leaders as playing a large role in securing lasting peace in the region. 

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The poll also revealed that an overwhelming majority of Palestinians, 77 percent, believe that Hamas came out as victorious in its 11-day conflict with Israel, with only 1 percent saying the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) were victorious. 

Roughly 18 percent said neither group could be considered a winner in the fighting, with 2 percent saying both sides won. 

According to the survey, 65 percent of Palestinian respondents said that Hamas achieved its objective in firing rockets toward Israel by forcing the traditional U.S. ally to stop the forced evictions of Palestinian families in the nearby Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood, which had spurred weeks of protests and tension in the region. 

The survey’s head pollster, Khalil Shikaki, told The Associated Press that while the increased Palestinian support for Hamas and declined backing of the Fatah party could be considered a “dramatic shift,” previous swings have occurred following periods of confrontation between Israel and Hamas. 

Shikaki, who has surveyed Palestinians for more than two decades, said that these shifts are generally less visible about three to six months following major fighting, largely due to criticism of Hamas for failing to deliver on stated promises. 

More than 250 Palestinians and 13 people in Israel were killed in the fighting last month after Hamas fired more than 4,000 rockets toward Israel cities and the IDF struck roughly 1,000 targets in Gaza. 

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Abbas, whose forces were driven out of Gaza by Hamas in 2007, has had his control largely confined to parts of the Israeli-occupied West Bank. 

The Palestinian Authority president has also faced increased pushback from Palestinians in recent months after calling off the areas’s first elections in 15 years in April, with 65 percent of respondents in Tuesday’s poll saying they opposed Abbas’s decision to postpone the political contest. 

Abbas had defended his decision by citing Israel’s refusal to grant permission for voting in east Jerusalem. 

Tuesday’s poll, which was conducted in 120 randomly selected locations in the region, reported a margin of error of 3 percentage points.