Poll: In Gaza, Hamas popularity wanes

66% of Hamas supporters say they would vote Fatah if it undertook reforms.

Fatah attack 298.88 (photo credit: AP [file])
Fatah attack 298.88
(photo credit: AP [file])
The violent takeover of the Gaza Strip has cost Hamas some support there and bolstered its rival, Fatah, according to a poll released Sunday. Hamas swept through Gaza last month, vanquishing numerically superior forces aligned with Fatah leader and Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas, who responded by dismissing the Hamas-led government and installing a new one with his backers. The poll of Gaza residents shows a backlash. Hamas got only 23 percent support, down from 29 percent in the previous survey last month, while Fatah climbed from 31 percent to 43 percent. The poll, the first major survey since the Hamas takeover, also showed that 66 percent of Hamas supporters said they would vote Fatah if it undertook reforms. The poll, released by Near East Consulting, interviewed 450 residents of the Gaza Strip. It quoted a margin of error of 3.05 percentage points. "I was surprised," said Jamil Rabah, head of Near East Consulting. Rabah said price hikes and food shortages along with a perception that Hamas was becoming increasingly authoritarian, contributed to its fall in support. Trust in the Gaza-based deposed Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh of Hamas stood at 37 percent, compared to 63 percent for Abbas. Prime Minister Sallam Fayad got higher trust marks than Haniyeh, 62-38 percent. "A lot of people answering this question said we like Haniyeh more, but we want people who can really deliver," Rabah said. "People are becoming more realistic."