Hamas has strong support among Palestinians – much more than Fatah – says poll

Blog by PN staff
Hamas election campaign rally, Ramallah, West Bank, Palestine, 17 March 2007. Photo: Hoheit via Wikimedia Commons (CC BY-SA 2.0 DE)

If elections were held today, Hamas would likely win the presidency and definitely be the biggest party in Palestine’s parliament, according to an independent poll carried out in early March in both the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. The poll was conducted by a respected independent think tank, the Palestinian Centre for Policy and Survey Research (PSR).

The PSR poll shows that Hamas has strong support among Palestinians, five months after 7 October and after five months of the devastating Israeli assault on Gaza that followed the Hamas-led attack.

The poll also shows that this strong support is based, partly, on denial of Hamas atrocities against Israeli civilians during the 7 October attack. Over 90 percent of Palestinians do not believe that Hamas carried out any atrocities on 7 October (80 percent have not seen any videos of Hamas attacks on Israeli civilians).

Three quarters of Palestinians agreed that ‘the war on Gaza since October 7 has revived international attention to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict that it could lead to increased recognition of Palestinian statehood.’

Almost half of Palestinians (47 percent) agree that Hamas ‘is the most deserving of representing and leading the Palestinian people’.

A larger proportion, about 60 percent of respondents, agree that Hamas would be their preferred choice in ruling Gaza. This option is less popular in Gaza than in the West Bank: only 52 percent of Gazans favoured the return of Hamas rule.

Three months earlier, in December, the PSR poll found only 38 percent of Gazans preferring the return of Hamas rule. The PSR analysts were surprised by the 14 percent rise in Gazan support for Hamas rule, calling it ‘one of the most intriguing findings of the current poll’. (The rise in support may be largely explained by the breakdown of law and order, as the Israel Defence Forces have targeted the police force during their assault, and the territory has seen armed gangs of various kinds fill the vacuum.)

PSR has long asked Palestinians ‘which of the following parties do you support’. Answering that question, people in Gaza are registering a low level of support today (34 percent) which is similar to their pre-7 October level (38 percent in September 2023). There was a jump in party affiliation in December to 42 percent, but it has  fallen back.

One thing that comes out of this is that there is a significant proportion of people in Gaza (about 18 percent) who are not actually ‘supporters’ of Hamas but who would prefer to see them return to ruling Gaza after this war is over, rather than the Palestinian Authority or any other body.

Asked about their predictions rather than their preferences, 59 percent of Palestinians today believe that Hamas will in fact be in control of Gaza when the Israeli assault ends.

If we only take account of people who say they will vote, the PSR poll shows that, if elections were held today, Hamas would win an all-Palestine parliamentary election, with 47 percent support compared to just 22 percent for the ruling Fatah coalition.

Also, if presidential elections were held today, with just two candidates standing – current president Mahmoud Abbas (from Fatah) and Hamas’s leader Ismail Haniyeh – Haniyeh would win with 70 percent of the vote.

On the other hand, if popular political prisoner Marwan Barghouti was also in the election, he would win both in a three-way race (by 24 percent) or head-to-head if he was competing just with Hamas’s Haniyeh (by 25 percent).

According to the PSR poll, just over 70 percent of Palestinians believe that Hamas’ decision to launch the 7 October attack was correct. Only 7 percent of Palestinians blame Hamas for the suffering of Gazans in the current war. (64 percent blame Israel and while 20 percent blame the US.)