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Poll shows sustained Palestinian support for Hamas despite mounting Gaza death toll

Survey shows sustained level of support with just 11 percent of Palestinians wanting PA's Mahmoud Abbas to administer the enclave
Hamas' Yahia al-Sinwar waves to supporters during a rally marking the 35th anniversary of the group's foundation, in Gaza City on 14 December 2022.
Hamas's Yahia al-Sinwar waves to supporters during a rally marking the 35th anniversary of the group's foundation, in Gaza City on 14 December 2022 (Mohammed Abed/AFP)

More than 50 percent of Palestinians believe Hamas should govern the Gaza Strip when the current war ends, while just 11 percent want Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas to administer the enclave, a survey by a leading Palestinian polling institute has found. 

The findings were published on Wednesday by the Palestinian Center for Policy Survey and Research (PCPSR) in Ramallah and done in cooperation with the Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung (KAS), as international alarm grows over the spiralling Palestinian civilian death toll in the Israeli offensive against Hamas, now in its sixth month.

Fifty-nine percent of the respondents in Gaza and the occupied West Bank said they wanted Hamas to run post-war Gaza, a five percent drop from PCPSR and KAS's last poll in December. 

Another 13 percent said they hoped the PA would return to control the Strip but only under the leadership of someone other than Abbas.

The 88-year-old has seen his popularity plummet in recent years over failures to advance Palestinian hopes for statehood and his reluctance to mend ties with Hamas.

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There have also been no substantive peace negotiations with Israel in more than a decade, and the PA is widely seen as having become increasingly corrupt and autocratic.

Abbas, who was elected to a four-year term in 2005, has not named a successor.

According to the survey, which was carried out between 5-10 March and sampled some 1,580 Palestinian adults in Gaza and the occupied West Bank, 70 percent of respondents said they were satisfied with the role Hamas has played during the course of the war, with 61 percent also approving of the role played by its Gaza-based leader, Yahya Sinwar.

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A former member of Hamas’s armed wing, Sinwar spent more than 20 years in an Israeli prison after being convicted of abducting and killing two Israeli soldiers. He was released in a 2011 prisoner swap.

The survey also found that 71 percent of Palestinians in Gaza and the West Bank believed that the attack on southern Israel on 7 October was “correct”, a drop of just one percent, according to the organisation’s previous poll published in December.

Israeli forces have killed nearly 32,000 Palestinians since 7 October, including at least 14,000 children, according to the Palestinian health ministry.

Meanwhile, Israel has been accused of using starvation as a weapon of war, as it has continued to severely restrict the entry of humanitarian aid for over five months.

On Monday, UN agencies said famine was imminent in northern Gaza. The European Union’s foreign policy chief, Josep Borrell, said Israel was “provoking famine” in the besieged Strip.

A UN-backed initiative found that the entire population of Gaza, estimated to be around 2.3 million, is enduring “acute” food insecurity, while half the population suffers from a greater level of food insecurity classified as “catastrophic”.

This article is available in French on Middle East Eye French edition.

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