Hamas more popular among Palestinians than before war, poll finds


(JTA) — Hamas’ popularity has surged in the West Bank and Gaza Strip since its latest conflict with Israel, according to a new poll.

A Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey research poll released Tuesday showed that 61 percent of Palestinians would choose Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh for president if elections were held today, The Associated Press reported.

Only 32 percent would vote for Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, of the Fatah party, founded by Abbas’ predecessor, Yasser Arafat.

A similar poll in June found that 41 percent of Palestinians supported Haniyeh and 53 percent backed Abbas. Seventy-two percent supported using Hamas’ armed approach in the West Bank.

The research center said it was the first time in eight years that a majority of Palestinians voiced such support for the Hamas leader, but noted that the group’s popularity might fall in the next few months, which happened in the periods following previous Israel-Hamas conflicts.

Polling took place from Aug. 26 through the first four days of the cease-fire, the research center said.

Seventy-nine percent of respondents told pollsters that Hamas won the confrontation, and 86 percent said they would support renewed rocket fire on Israel if a blockade on Gaza is not lifted. Twenty-five percent said armed groups in Gaza should give up their weapons after the blockade ends and elections are held.

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