(Denver, Colorado) — The most recent credible polling of Palestinians in Gaza reveals sinking support for Hamas, rising support for the Palestinian Authority to run Gaza instead of Hamas, and an overwhelming desire for a ceasefire, reports the Washington Institute for Near East Policy.
- 88% want the Palestinian Authority (PA) — not Hamas — to run Gaza administratively
- 70% want a ceasefire
- 57% want Hamas to renounce violence against Israel
- 56% would like to work in Israel if calm was restored and they could find a better-paying job than in Gaza
To be sure, the poll finds that a large number of Palestinians in Gaza do support Hamas and violence. Support for a two-state solution has dropped significantly.
Also, this is only a snapshot in time. We will need to see more polling results in the days and weeks ahead to understand how public opinion in Gaza — and the West Bank — is shifting as a result of the intensity of the war with Israel.
But the poll does make clear that many Gazan Palestinians are giving up on Hamas. Many see the quiet and stability of the PA’s governance on the West Bank as a better model. They don’t love Israel by any means, but many Gazans don’t want war. They overwhelmingly want a ceasefire and for the fighting to stop on both sides.
Again, it’s too soon to draw any conclusions. But let’s hope and pray that this war ends quickly, that the Lord heals and comforts all those who are suffering, that the people of Gaza decide they are done with Hamas and its terrorist policies and allies, and that a deep public desire for calm and rebuilding prevails.
GAZANS WANTED A CEASEFIRE EVEN AS HAMAS STARTED FIRING ROCKETS
As tensions mounted and Hamas and other Gazan factions began to step up rocket fire last month, the people of that territory were heavily in favor of a ceasefire — 70 percent of the poll respondents agreed or strongly agreed with the statement “Hamas should maintain a ceasefire with Israel in both Gaza and the West Bank.” This attitude is corroborated by the 73 percent of Gazans who said Palestinians should adopt “proposals for (nonviolent) popular resistance against the occupation.” Similarly, when asked if Hamas should accept Palestinian Authority president Mahmoud Abbas’s position that the new unity government renounce violence against Israel, a clear majority (57 percent) answered in the affirmative. The responses to all three questions clearly indicate that most Gazans reject military escalation. Attitudes may have shifted since the poll due to anger at Israeli airstrikes, but anecdotal evidence suggests that the Gazan public still supports a ceasefire.
HAMAS FAILING TO DELIVER
The poll also demonstrates that Gazans are unhappy with Hamas governance — on multiple levels. A large majority (71 percent) considered crime to be a “significant” problem. Two-thirds said that another significant problem was official corruption. Moreover, a large majority (78 percent) found the “presence of Palestinian militias that are not organized under the formal security structure” to be at least a “moderate” problem.
In light of this dissatisfaction with Hamas security forces and administration, most respondents favored the prospect of the PA taking over Gaza. A remarkable 88 percent agreed with the statement “The PA should send officials and security officers to Gaza to take over administration there” — including two-thirds who “strongly” agreed.
HAMAS LEADERS HAVE MEAGER POLITICAL SUPPORT
Also very striking, and contrary to common misperception, is the fact that Hamas did not gain politically from the kidnapping of three Israeli teenagers that sparked the current crisis last month. Asked who should be the president of Palestine in the next two years, a solid majority in Gaza named either Abbas or other leaders affiliated with the Fatah Party. In stark contrast, Hamas leaders Ismail Haniyeh and Khaled Mashal rated a combined total of just 15 percent support.
MAJORITY OF GAZANS WANT ISRAELI JOBS
The Gazan economy has receded over the past year as unemployment climbed to around 40 percent. Egypt’s closure of multiple smuggling tunnels and the Fatah-Hamas dispute over post-reconciliation salaries have only exacerbated this dire economic situation. The results of the June poll go even further than these indicators, showing that Gazans would be willing to look to Israel for their livelihood. Respondents overwhelmingly (82 percent) said they “would like to see Israel allow more Palestinians to work in Israel.” Still more poignantly, a majority (56 percent) said they “would be personally willing to work in Israel if there was a good, high-paying job.” Thus, Gazans actually favored some form of normalization with Israel in order to find work.
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