The support Hamas enjoys in the West Bank has tripled, but it is suffering in Gaza

The support Hamas enjoys in the West Bank has tripled, but it is suffering in Gaza

In A Tale of Two Cities, Charles Dickens depicted the contrast between life in London and Paris during the early days of the French Revolution. Organized, calm and peaceful life in the first capital; A jerky, chaotic, violent existence in the second. None of the fragmented parts that make up the occupied Palestinian territories have seen peace for many decades, but Israel’s devastating, if disproportionate, response to the ruthless mass attack by Hamas on October 7 is clearly reflected in its view of the Palestinians. Towards the Islamic faction. It does not exceed 50% in any of the regions, but while in the West Bank its popularity has tripled in opinion polls, the majority in Gaza is “angry” at the militants who launched this latest war.

“Hamas members continue to support Hamas, but the rest of us are angry with them because of the price we pay for their adventure,” says a journalist from La Franja, who preferred to remain anonymous for security reasons. “If they had the support of Syria, Iran, or Hezbollah in a big war to help us regain our rights and liberate our land, the people would have accepted the sacrifice, but the reality is that they only achieved Assad’s status in our home.” “, he says in a phone conversation.

Hamas’s popularity in Gaza has long been in decline, the natural result of more than three decades of unopposed rule, stifling external conditions and repeated Israeli military sanctions to stifle any resistance to prison sieges and colonial rule at the base of mass destruction.

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If you add to this the corruption of the Hamas bureaucracy and the repressive style it propagates internally, in the best traditions of Arab regimes, you can understand popular discontent in Gaza, where they received 42% support in September, according to the respected Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research, the leading demographic center in Regions.

Since the October attack on southern Israel, in which 1,200 people were killed, including about 850 civilians, support has risen by four points, according to the latest PSR poll conducted at the end of November, largely coinciding with the holiday week. .

The danger of protest in Gaza

In times of war, dissent is always a risky sport, and Gaza is no exception. The same source says, without knowing any affiliation: “Hamas members are present everywhere, and if they feel that someone is seeking to destabilize the home front, they can shoot themselves in the foot.” “You can file a verbal complaint, but anyone who dares to call for a protest will get into trouble.” Also in Israel, fear of arrests and police violence has silenced the minority of Israelis who, according to opinion polls, oppose what their government is doing in Gaza.

In the West Bank, Dickens’s London, where there are thousands of detainees, daily raids and hundreds of dead Palestinians, the picture is different. After the support rate for Hamas was only 12% in September, it reached 44%. More than eight out of ten of its residents consider that the Islamist attack was “correct,” compared to 57% in Gaza who believe so. Most believe it was carried out to protect the Islamic holy sites in Jerusalem from Jewish extremists and to seek a prisoner exchange.

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Doctor, politician, activist, Mustafa Barghouthi, and historian of Palestinian civil society, says: “The population supports resistance to the occupation because everything else has failed. From the Oslo process to the negotiations or the Palestinian Authority itself.” “It is not that they have moved away from Hamas ideologically, but people are looking for anything that can change their situation,” he adds from his office in Ramallah.

Political unity

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Historically, Hamas’s intellectual base, the teachers and thinkers closest to the hard line of the Muslim Brotherhood to which it belongs, was not located in Gaza, but in the West Bank. Since 2007, when Palestinian political unity was broken, they have been living there underground. Political analyst Nour Odeh says: “You have to understand that the Palestinian population is very young, and like all young people, they see things in black and white.” “For this generation, the followers of the Palestinian National Authority have not achieved anything, and today we are much worse than yesterday. We have been humiliated. That is why people value those who are willing to fight – for better or worse – to regain their status.” “A minimum of dignity,” he adds in a phone conversation.

What is clear is that the Palestinians do not want to see their President Mahmoud Abbas, the man who, in the eyes of Europeans and Americans, should head the post-war government in Gaza and ultimately lead the political process. 90% of those surveyed in the public opinion poll want Abbas to resign.

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