After the war: Hamas weaker, Fatah stronger among Palestinians

I don’t know how accurate are the polls of public opinion in the West Bank and Gaza. But if this one is in the ballpark, it challenges the assertion of some “experts” that Operation Cast Lead only strengthened the hand of Hamas and weakened Fatah.

The poll, conducted by the Beit Sahour-based Palestinian Center for Public Opinion and published last week,… found that the popularity of Fatah among Palestinians now exceeds the popularity of Hamas, in contrast to a November 2008 poll conducted well before Israel’s military operation.

Today, Hamas is supported by only 27.8% of the population in the Gaza Strip, compared to 51.5% in November, said Dr. Nabil Kukali, founder and general director of the PCPO.

Fatah’s popularity in the Hamas-controlled coastal territory lies at 42.5%, compared to 31.4% in November.

“Many Palestinians suffered from the war in Gaza… They lost their homes and their families,” Kukali said. “The situation is unpredictable, and maybe they feel that Hamas did not make the right decision” when it did not renew its six-month truce with Israel that expired in December.

Given that many Gazans are understandably afraid to say what they really think of Hamas, this result is quite remarkable. In fact Hamas’s real support is probably even lower.

Of course none of this suggests any real affection for Fatah, let alone Israel, among Palestinians. Relatively few are willing to blame Hamas over Israel.

[M]ore than half of total respondents (54.4%) believe that Israel should be held responsible for the recent war in Gaza, while only 14.5% believe that Hamas should be held responsible.

But strongest of all, it seems, is the desire of ordinary Palestinians to simply get on with their lives in peace.

The PCPO poll also found that 86.1% of Palestinians in the Gaza Strip and 89.6% in the West Bank supported a Palestinian-Israeli truce.