Palestinian Sentiment Towards Hamas Shifts Amid Israel Atrocities



by FARUK IMAMOVIC

Palestinian Sentiment Towards Hamas Shifts Amid Israel Atrocities
© Getty Images News/Spencer Platt

Ramallah, Al-Manara Square stands as a testament to the daily life and the underlying tensions in the Palestinian territories. Here, at the city’s core, where six roads converge, the rhythm of everyday life continues amidst the backdrop of ongoing conflict.

A City’s Pulse Amidst War

As cars yield to the confident strides of pedestrians, the roundabout of Al-Manara Square pulses with the energy of a community persistently moving forward. Despite the semblance of normalcy on a Sunday morning, the reminders of the conflict in Gaza are stark and unavoidable.

Images of war, displayed prominently in the square, bear silent witness to the suffering just a short distance away.

One poignant poster, juxtaposed against a scene of rescue efforts, reads, “This destruction resembles the conscience of the world”.

Nearby, another image showcases ambulances outside a hospital, accompanied by a call to action: “Medical Heroes demand action: Stop the Massacre in Gaza!”

Public Opinion in Conflict

A mile from the square, in an office laden with paperwork, lies the hub of Khalil Shikaki’s research endeavors.

As the head of the Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research (PCPSR), Shikaki sheds light on the prevailing sentiments among Palestinians regarding the conflict with Israel. His recent survey, conducted amidst a truce, offers a snapshot of the public opinion.

The research team interviewed 750 adults in the West Bank and 481 in Gaza, capturing their views during a rare moment of calm. Despite the slightly higher margin of error in this survey, the findings are telling. An overwhelming majority, approximately 72%, support Hamas’s decision to engage in conflict with Israel on October 7.

This figure contrasts starkly with the 22% who viewed the decision as incorrect. However, Shikaki clarifies, this support should not be misconstrued as an endorsement of any potential atrocities committed by Hamas.

The underlying sentiment, as Shikaki explains, is one of desperation and a perceived lack of alternatives.

“Palestinians believe that diplomacy and negotiations are not an option available to them,” he states. In their view, “only violence and armed struggle is the means to end the siege and blockade over Gaza, and in general to end the Israeli occupation”.