Recent polls suggest that there has been a rise in Hamas's popularity in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank, Arabi21 reported yesterday.
Head of the Palestinian Centre for Policy and Survey Research, Dr Khalil Shikaki, who conducted the poll, said that 39 per cent of the respondents in Gaza would vote for Hamas if elections were held, compared to 32 per cent a year ago.
Meanwhile, 32 per cent of the respondents in the occupied West Bank, where there are tens of illegal Israeli settlements, would vote for Hamas, compared to 27 per cent three months ago.
The poll, which was conducted earlier this month, showed a decline in the popularity of Fatah, the movement headed by Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas. It showed that 36 per cent of respondents would vote for Fatah, compared to 41 per cent three months ago.
At the same time, the poll showed that the evaluation of Abbas's performance has decreased from 50 per cent to 44 per cent following the announcement of the unity government last year.
Speaking to journalists, Shikaki said that the residents of the Gaza Strip are feeling depressed more than ever before. "About 50 per cent of the residents are thinking of emigrating," he said.
The Gaza Strip has suffered following three destructive Israeli offensives since 2008, in addition to an eight-year siege. The most recent offensive took place last summer and reconstruction efforts have been stifled by Israel's unwillingness to allow construction materials in to the Strip.
Israel placed Gaza under siege after Hamas won an overwhelming majority in parliamentary elections in 2006.