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hamas step on abbas 298..(Photo by: AP)
Poll shows Gazans fear, distrust Hamas
58% of respondents say they're afraid to express political views, 72% support peace deal with Israel.
Most residents of the Gaza Strip are afraid to openly express their political views following Hamas' takeover of the area in June, according to a poll released Wednesday, the latest sign of public discontent with Gaza's Hamas rulers. The poll found that a majority of Gazans oppose rocket attacks on Israel, favor a peace agreement with the Jewish state, and do not consider the Hamas authority in Gaza to be the legitimate Palestinian government. It also concluded that Hamas would lose elections if a new vote were held today. The poll was conducted by Near East Consulting, a research firm based in the West Bank. The firm said it surveyed 470 Palestinians in Gaza by telephone on September 25-27. It did not give a margin of error. Hamas seized control of Gaza in mid-June after routing forces loyal to PA President Mahmoud Abbas's Fatah movement. Abbas responded by forming a pro-Western government in the West Bank. According to the survey, 58 percent of respondents said they are now afraid to express their political views following the Hamas takeover, and 60% say Hamas's paramilitary police, known as the Executive Force, has done a poor job respecting individual rights. It also found 52% of respondents consider Abbas's government to be the legitimate Palestinian ruling authority, while only 26% favor the Hamas government led by Ismail Haniyeh. Sixty-four percent said they trust Abbas, compared with 36% who trust Fatah. In another blow to Hamas, 72% said they support a final peace agreement with Israel, and 55% called on Hamas to change its position toward Israel. Nearly three-quarters said they support Abbas' call for new elections - a position opposed by Hamas. It said 42% would vote for Fatah, with just 15% support for Hamas. Since the Hamas takeover, the international community has welcomed Abbas's government, while pushing Hamas into deep isolation. In the poll, 86% said they are worried about the state of affairs in Gaza, and 47% said they are thinking of emigrating. In comparison, 33% said they were considering emigration a month earlier.
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