Hamas is out with a new slogan: “We have not forgotten the struggle.” To prove their commitment to fighting, they are now focusing on infrastructure. The movement has announced plans to build up roads and garbage collection in Gaza, while also trying to win back some of the support it lost after being defeated militarily by Israel last summer.
The “hamas popularity” is a country in the Middle East with a population of about 1.7 million people. It was formed in 1987 after fighting Israel. The goal of Hamas is to establish an Islamic state and they want to stay popular by fixing roads, collecting trash, and other tasks.
AL-MAZRAA, WEST BIBLE STATES — In the spring, a brutal 11-day confrontation with Israel boosted Hamas’ popularity among Palestinians in the West Bank. Local elections this week will serve as one of the first litmus tests for the militant group’s successes.
The election for local city councils and mayors is the first in the West Bank in over five years, and it comes amid a surge of street violence throughout the area, punctuated by fury against the Palestinian Authority, the Palestinian Authority’s executive body. Support for Hamas has grown as Palestinians express dissatisfaction with Fatah, the ruling party, over corruption, public safety, and cozy relations with Israel.
“We need someone to take care of the roads, the garbage, and assist town planning,” said Khader Khalifeh, 49, of Al-Mazraa, a poor rural community in the central West Bank highlands. “We should demand more because they are competing for our votes.”
Hamas, which is considered a terrorist group by Israel and the United States, rules the Gaza Strip but works mostly underground in the West Bank, where it has declared an electoral boycott. Several persons are running for office with Hamas’ endorsement and are considered unofficial Hamas candidates.
Following an uptick in hostilities earlier this year, Palestinian support for Hamas soared in the aftermath of the May battle, in which the terrorist organization exchanged hundreds of missiles with Israel. Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza welcomed Hamas’ willingness to stand up to Israel, despite the bloodshed killing 13 Israelis and more than 250 Gazans. Since then, Hamas and Israel have had a precarious ceasefire.
Since then, surveys have shown that Hamas has surpassed Fatah in popularity by as much as 20 percentage points. Since 2007, when Hamas rejected a power-sharing agreement and seized over government buildings in Gaza by force, expelling and executing local Fatah leaders, Fatah and Hamas have been at conflict.
In May, Israel’s Iron Dome missile defense system intercepted rockets launched from the northern Gaza Strip towards Israel.
Agence France-Presse/Getty Images/anas Baba
Since May, Israel has been more concerned about Hamas’ popularity, and the Israeli cabinet, which removed Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu in June, has taken moves that are regarded as bolstering the West Bank administration’s legitimacy and diminishing Hamas’ footing, according to observers.
Nonetheless, public shows of Hamas support have become more common.
Thousands of people flocked to the streets last month for the burial of a prominent Hamas member, when militants in full regalia flashed firearms and waved Hamas flags. Local Fatah supporters promptly ordered the group’s flags to be down and sacked security chiefs. The event, according to Hamas, demonstrated the group’s progress in the West Bank.
Some smaller towns and villages in the West Bank still have Hamas’ green flags flying, pasted to telephone poles or spray painted on buildings, in defiance of the authorities.
Support for Hamas is seen by many as a rejection of the Palestinian Authority, which was established over three decades ago as a transitional vehicle for self-government but is now often accused of dictatorship.
Since 2005, there hasn’t been a Palestinian presidential election. The last time local elections were conducted was in 2017. According to polls, as much as 80% of the people wants Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas to step down.
Basic services like as garbage collection and road and sidewalk maintenance are denied to large sections of the Palestinian people, according to Palestinians. In addition, there has been a breakdown in the local court system as a result of the rising street violence.
Emad Abul-Hayyat has been running a barbershop in Jenin since 1971, using Egyptian leather and chrome barber chairs. He claims that security has become a luxury for the wealthy and well-connected, prompting many West Bankers to go to Gaza, where offenders are sometimes publicly punished.
“Despite all of that, and despite the circumstance they’re in,” Mr. Abul-Hayyat added, “they have a system and security.” “On Gaza, the murderer will be slain, but in the West Bank, the murders take place in broad daylight, and the case will be solved over a cup of coffee.”
The president of the Gaza Strip’s government administration sends his condolences to Hamas commander Abd al-Salam Siam’s family, who died of Covid-19 in late November.
Apa/Zuma Press photo
The Palestinian Authority claims to be devoted to civil freedoms and that human rights abuses are rare occurrences. Authorities in the West Bank criticize Israel for their economic troubles and say its military presence hinders Palestinian security forces.
The Palestinian Authority postponed presidential and parliamentary elections earlier this year, citing Israel’s refusal to allow vote boxes in the contested city of Jerusalem as the reason. Critics claim that the West Bank authorities postponed elections because they were frightened of losing in front of the people to Hamas.
Hamas claims to be gaining ground in the West Bank because it promotes order and is not afraid to use violence against Israel. President Donald Trump’s decision to transfer the US embassy to Jerusalem and shutdown a consulate that served Palestinians enraged Palestinians. Meanwhile, Hamas’ narrative that Israel is evicting Muslims from their third-holiest city has been bolstered by the possibility of Palestinian families being evicted from Jerusalem.
“People believe Hamas because it makes a promise and then keeps it,” said Hamas member Khaled Alhaj, who claims that since his release from prison in June, his movement’s popularity has grown in his hometown of Jenin.
“People demand resistance, and they value Hamas’ resistance and fighting for them,” he stated.
With violence on the increase, many in the United States and Israel believe Palestinians have never felt more helpless than they do now, as they are squeezed by Israeli authorities, neglected by their own administration, and completely abandoned worldwide.
“The Palestinian Authority is on the point of catastrophic collapse,” Esawi Frej, Israel’s regional affairs minister and one of the government’s few Arabs, stated. “On the ground, it has no control.”
In early December, Palestinians gather in the northern Gaza Strip for a demonstration commemorating the 34th anniversary of Hamas’ establishment.
MOHAMMED SALEM/REUTERS/MOHAMMED SALEM/REUTERS/MOHAMMED SALEM/REUT
Thomas Grove can be reached at [email protected].
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Hamas has been in power in the Gaza Strip since 2007. After a fierce battle with Israel, Hamas is now trying to fix roads and collect trash to stay popular. Reference: hamas in west bank.
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