Palestinian rioters on the Gaza border. (AP/Adel Hana) (AP/Adel Hana)
Palestinian protesters

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The majority of Gaza’s Palestinians actually oppose the violent border riots led by Hamas and at least half would support a formal cease-fire with Israel, new polls show. 

By: United with Israel Staff

Hamas’ attempts to depict the so-called March of Return violent riots on Israel’s borders as a popular grassroots movement are false, as two Palestinian opinion polls taken inside Gaza this month demonstrate that the majority of Palestinians oppose these violent incidents

The Washington Institute for Near East Policy, which presented the new figures, wrote that most Gazans say they want direct dialogue with Israelis and would like Israeli companies to provide jobs for them inside that Hamas-ruled territory.

Most blame Hamas and the Palestinian Authority, and not Israel, for their severe economic woes.

Moreover, a majority of Palestinians in Gaza say they want Hamas to change its anti-Israel position and agree to make peace with the Jewish state.

These unexpected findings reflect the views expressed in two face-to-face, standard probability polls among representative samples of approximately 500 randomly selected respondents during the period of October 3-15.

One poll was supervised by the Palestine Center for Public Opinion. The other was run by a Ramallah-based organization. Both organizations used local Gazan interviewers and field supervisors.

Regarding the almost daily Hamas-led border riots, just 36 percent of Gazans support this tactic, while 62 percent say they oppose it. Conversely, a formal cease-fire with Israel garners the support of the majority with 73 to 25 percent in one poll; 51 to 45 percent in the other.

On the question of full peace with Israel, both polls show more support than opposition. The wording of the question is crystal clear: should Hamas “stop calling for Israel’s destruction, and instead accept a permanent two-state solution based on the 1967 borders?” One poll shows Gazans say yes by a margin of 53 to 45 percent; the other poll has narrower margin, 48 to 44 percent.

Regarding contacts with Israel, even without a peace agreement, despite Hamas’ official anti-normalization policies and demonization propaganda, both polls show that two-thirds of Gazans want “direct personal contacts and dialogue with Israelis.”

Some three-quarters say they “would like to see Israeli companies offer more jobs” inside Gaza.” Gazans were employed by Israeli companies before Hamas’ violent takeover of Gaza.

Gazans’ Realistic Approach

Asked who is most responsible for the slow pace of reconstruction in their area, the majority pointed the finger at Hamas with 32 percent, the Palestinian Authority with 22 percent, compared with just 27 percent who single out Israel.

However, the Palestinians’ approach to Israel is purely practical. In both polls, only about half say that negotiations with Israel have had even “somewhat positive” results to date. Similarly, only about half say that a two-state solution should “end the conflict.” Slightly more than half, 55 percent, still anticipate that “eventually, the Palestinians will control almost all of Palestine,” either because “God is on their side,” or because “they will outnumber the Jews some day.”

“Altogether, then, popular attitudes in Gaza are arguably more attuned to reality than either the militant image propagated by Hamas or the desperate anger at Israel often portrayed in outside media,” wrote David Pollock.

These findings are similar to previous polls on the issue.

A June poll showed that the vast majority of Palestinians believe that the March of Return, the violent Hamas-led riots on Israel’s border with Gaza, completely failed.

Only 21 percent of the Palestinians believed the March of Return achieved most of its goals, while 74 percent believed it has not achieved its goals or achieved little, according to a poll conducted by the Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research.

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