Foreign Policy Blogs

Palestinian Leader Mudar Zahran: “Hamas Gaining Popularity in the West Bank”


The head of the Palestinian community in Jordan Mudar Zahran, who is presently living in the West Bank and reporting live what is happening in Operation Protective Edge, stresses that Gazans now hate Hamas more than Israel, but Palestinians in the West Bank now are increasingly supporting Hamas.

JerusalemOnline reported this week that the mass rallies in support of Gaza are fake because the people were compelled to protest in favor of Hamas just as the Iraqis were forced to protest in favor of Sadamn Hussein: “The average Gazan hates Hamas and not only because of the war. Ten percent manage to control the trade and the tunnel business, while Gazans suffer. Most Gazans are angry with Hamas,” Zahran stressed in JerusalemOnline.

According to the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, a credible poll published right before Operation Protective Edge demonstrated that 70 percent of Gazans wanted Hamas to maintain a ceasefire with Israel and 57 percent of Palestinians in Gaza preferred a Fatah to a Hamas leadership. 86 percent of Gazans want their people to be able to work in Israel and 56 percent are personally interested in looking for Israeli jobs for themselves. The blockade has adversely affected the Gazan economy, especially as Egypt has cracked down on the tunnel business. 40 percent of Gazans are unemployed.

In the international arena, Hamas has lost support from most countries in the Arab world except for Qatar, Jordan’s king, and Turkey’s AKP Party. After Hamas sided with Sunni Islamist groups in Syria against Assad’s regime, both Iran and Syria have distanced themselves from Hamas. After Morsi’s regime fell in Egypt, the new Egyptian government does not view Hamas favorably, viewing it correctly as the Palestinian branch of the country’s number one enemy, the Muslim Brotherhood.

Given this international situation, this low level of Hamas popularity in Gaza itself might have been one of Hamas’ reasons for running the war the way that they did. A Hamas manual discovered by the IDF demonstrated clearly that Hamas sought to use civilians as human shields in order to create public support that did not exist for them prior to the operation. This is why they fired from mosques, churches, schools, hospitals, homes, and other civilians’ centers.

It was a political ploy to garner international and Arab opposition against Israel. After all, with the existence of the Iron Dome and bomb shelters in Israel effectively preventing civilian causalities in many cases within the Jewish state, how can Israel compete with pictures of women crying over their destroyed homes and dead children? Until Hamas garnered enough pictures from this conflict using their human shields tactic, they even imported pictures from Iraq, Syria and even Israel itself to serve their propaganda goals. They threatened journalists so they would not be able to safely publish that Hamas fired rockets from civilian areas so that Israel would appear like she was callously targeting civilians.

Nevertheless, in Gaza, their tactic backfired and now the Gazan people hate Hamas more than Israel. According to Zahran, “Not a single Gazan that I spoke to was not against Hamas. Come on, do you guys think we are animals? That we would love seeing Hamas terrorists hiding among our crowds just to have Israeli F-16’s bomb us so we can get the sympathy? Please understand, yes, Gaza elected Hamas, but people make mistakes. Didn’t the Germans elect Hitler? Were the Germans still in favor of Hitler when Russia and the Allies were marching into Berlin and bombing the hell out of it?”

“At the same time, did the Germans protest against Hitler even when he was falling? Nonetheless, the Gazans did in Beit Hanoun and Shujaiah and my sources as well as a contact inside Fatah confirmed that,” Zahran noted in JerusalemOnline. There are claims that up to 35 people were killed protesting Hamas since the operation began, but Zahran could only confirm five of the deaths.

In the West Bank however, the exact opposite trend is occurring. After so many Palestinians have died, become wounded or lost their homes, the extremism of Hamas has flourished and the popularity of Hamas has risen within the West Bank, according to Palestinian political commentator Mudar Zahran. The people are moved by the images they saw on Arabic language television and unlike the Gazan people; they did not witness the facts on the ground firsthand. Zahran stresses that the only thing that prevented a Third Intifada from erupting within the West Bank was Abu Mazen’s security forces.

“Someone was telling me, a shop keeper, that he thinks Hamas should continue all the way. He said all Hamas has to do is keep fighting for two more years and we will liberate Tel Aviv,” Zahran recounted. “And this shows you how brainwashed people are by the most watched terror channel on earth, Al Jazeera. What was shocking here in the West Bank is that I saw a Christian Palestinian chanting Hamas’ name. I saw a group of protesters in Beit Jala throwing rocks at the Israeli Army and three of them wore crosses and I saw them burning tires later. I took a ride with a Christian taxi driver who told me that the Gazans were being butchered by the Jews just like Christ was.”

“Hamas terrorizes Gazans,” Zahran emphasized. “Hamas for sure enjoyed it when the media was reporting the death of a Gazan Christian woman and the Christian boy who lost his leg after an Israeli raid. Admit it guys, Hamas plays media much better than Israel, the PA and us secular Palestinians could ever do. No wonder, Hamas has the money of Qatar and the intelligence help of Jordan’s King and his media. How could they lose?”



Rachel Avraham

Rachel Avraham is the CEO of the Dona Gracia Center for Diplomacy and the editor of the Economic Peace Center, which was established by Ayoob Kara, who served as Israel's Communication, Cyber and Satellite Minister. For close to a decade, she has been an Israel-based journalist, specializing in radical Islam, abuses of human rights and minority rights, counter-terrorism, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, Azerbaijan, Syria, Iran, and other issues of importance. Avraham is the author of “Women and Jihad: Debating Palestinian Female Suicide Bombings in the American, Israeli and Arab Media," a ground-breaking book endorsed by Former Israel Consul General Yitzchak Ben Gad and Israeli Communications Minister Ayoob Kara that discusses how the media exploits the life stories of Palestinian female terrorists in order to justify wanton acts of violence. Avraham has an MA in Middle Eastern Studies from Ben-Gurion University. She received her BA in Government and Politics with minors in Jewish Studies and Middle Eastern Studies from the University of Maryland at College Park.