This study analyzes the attitudes of Palestinians
in the occupied Palestinian territory towards armed resistance against Israel over the last 14 years, starting in April 1997 and ending in November 2011. Specifically, it analyzes how respondents answered the question: Do you support the continuation of military operations against Israeli targets as an appropriate response in current political conditions or do you oppose them and believe they harm Palestinian national interests?
The study’s main findings are:
- Palestinian support for military operations against Israel is remarkably uniform across various sectors of society, meaning that when it is high and when it is low, women and men, young and old and Palestinians from different backgrounds support it at very similar rates.
- Public support for military operations roughly correlates with the number of Palestinian fatalities at the hands of the Israeli military and settlers. The relatively few Palestinian fatalities in 2011 may be one reason why current support for military operations remains low, despite the current collapse in the peace process between Israel and Palestinians.
- The highest point of public support for military operations was in September 2001, measured at 84.6%, and its lowest point was in November 2011, at 29.3%.
- Palestinians who trust Hamas and Islamic Jihad are most consistently supportive of military operations, with those who trust the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine behind them.
- The 20-30% of Palestinians that say they trust no political faction are usually less supportive of military operations than the general public.
- Political divisions (between Fateh and Hamas) and geographic separation (between Gaza, the West Bank and East Jerusalem) appear to have made more pronounced the differences of opinion that do exist (between factions and geographical areas) over the use of military operations. Few clear trends were apparent in support for military operations when examining age, family income and place of residence (city, village or refugee camp).
- Palestinians who are critical of the performance of the Palestinian Authority are only slightly more supportive of military operations (with support ranging from 8.3-15.9 percentage points higher than others).
- When asked in November 2011, respondents said that economic considerations (72.2%) and the political situation (72.9%) were the most important in determining if they supported military operations.