(AP Photo/Francisco Seco)
Israel Palestinians Battered Kibbutz

Many Israelis see Palestinian support for terrorism as a key barrier to peace.

By Jack Elbaum, Algemeiner

The vast majority of Palestinians still support Hamas’ Oct. 7 massacre across southern Israel and don’t believe the terror group engaged in war crimes during its invasion of the Jewish state that left 1,200 people dead and more than 250 taken hostage, according to new polling.

The Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research (PCPSR) on Wednesday released its latest poll about Palestinian attitudes toward Hamas, the Oct. 7 atrocities, and the ongoing war in Gaza as a whole.

It found that 71% of Palestinians believe Hamas’ decision to launch an offensive against Israel on Oct. 7 was “correct.”

Among those who live in Hamas-ruled Gaza, support for the Oct. 7 attack rose from 57 percent in December to 71 percent this month. Among those who live in the West Bank, support dropped from 82 percent to 71 percent over the same period. Palestinians saw the decision to invade Israel and massacre civilians as correct even though it precipitated a war between Israel and Hamas in Gaza, created a humanitarian crisis in the coastal enclave, and did not draw other Arab states or groups into all-out war with Israel.

Palestinians who both saw videos of Hamas’ Oct. 7 attack against Israeli civilians and did not see videos overwhelmingly believe the terror group did not commit atrocities. Among those who watched the videos, 81 percent said Hamas did not commit atrocities, while 17 percent said they did. When it came to those who did not see the videos, 97 percent said they did not believe Hamas committed any atrocities.

Beyond the murders and kidnappings, mounting evidence has documented Hamas’ systematic use of torture and sexual violence, including mass rape, against the Israeli people on Oct. 7.

The poll found that 70 percent of Palestinians in Gaza and the West Bank said they are satisfied with Hamas’ actions during the war and that 63 percent said they prefer a “day after” scenario in which Hamas remains in control of Gaza rather than the Palestinian Authority, which governs in the West Bank, or other Arab countries. Over 60 percent also said they are satisfied with Hamas leader Yahya Sinwar’s performance during the war.

When asked about support for Palestinian political parties and movements, a plurality of 34 percent chose Hamas. The terror group’s rival, Fatah, came in second with 17 percent. Back in September, Fatah enjoyed greater support than Hamas, 26 percent to 22 percent, suggesting Hamas’ decision to attack Israel on Oct. 7 helped its perception considerably among the Palestinian public.

Sixty-four percent of Palestinians said they believe Hamas will defeat Israel in the war — a six-point drop from December but still a firm majority. This is despite the fact that Israel has taken well over two-thirds of Hamas’ fighters off the battlefield and destroyed nearly all of its battalions.

In December, a PCPSR poll showed similar attitudes among Palestinians. Many Israelis see Palestinian support for terrorist groups and attacks as the primary impediment to peace.

However, there were also a few more positive findings from the latest poll. Forty-five percent of Palestinians — including 62 percent from Gaza — said they believe in a two-state solution with an independent Palestinian state existing alongside an independent Jewish state of Israel. In September, only 32 percent in Gaza and the West Bank believed in such a solution, and in December that number increased slightly to 34 percent. Additionally, the proportion of Palestinians who said “armed struggle” is the best way to achieve a Palestinian state dropped from 63 percent in December to 46 percent today — although it remains higher than in Sept. 2022, when it was at 41 percent.

PCPSR’s poll was conducted from March 5 to March 10, in face-to-face interviews with 1,580 Palestinian adults from the West Bank and Gaza in randomly selected locations. The poll had a +/- 3 percent margin of error.