03 September 2014

Hamas popularity surges

Whatever damage Israel did to Hamas during the recent war, it didn't harm the group's standing among the Palestinian people. Quite the contrary. According to a survey by the Palestinian Centre for Policy and Survey Research, the popularity of Hamas has surged in both Gaza and the West Bank to the point that if elections were held today it would win, as it did in the last Palestinian election in 2006. Hamas leader Ismail Haniya would defeat Fatah's Mahmoud Abbas two to one in a presidential election.

Furthermore, over half of the survey's respondents said armed resistance would help gain a Palestinian state while only 20 percent supported non-violent means. An overwhelming majority of West Bankers want to transfer “Hamas’s way” to the West Bank. For the first time ever, Hamas’s official TV station is the most popular in both Gaza and the West Bank (followed by al Jazeera).

As time passes, the support for Hamas will fade, but in the meantime it has been given a significant boost. It seems that Israel's attempts to destroy Hamas only rejuvenate it. This is not surprising. Nothing rallies the people around their government more effectively than dealing with an external threat, a threat to the tribe.

Nor is it surprising that the Palestinians believe violence may be the only way to win their own state. Fighting Israel causes them great suffering but endless talks with their overwhelming enemy, against whom they have absolutely no leverage in negotiations, have gained them exactly nothing. Or less than nothing—they remain under Israel's boot and more of their land is stolen every day. Putting up a fight, no matter how futile, at least allows them to feel like more than victims.

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