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Is Hamas Taking over Palestinian Authority-governed Parts of Judea and Samaria?

May 19, 2022

by: Kate Norman

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Birzeit University, north of Ramallah, where Hamas-affiliated students scored a landmark victory in student elections on Wednesday night

Thursday, 19 May 2022 | The results of student elections at a university in Judea and Samaria show a worrying trend: the growing popularity of the Islamist Hamas terror movement in the region.

While once relegated to ruling over the Gaza Strip, Hamas seems to be spreading its influence outside of the enclave—and into the biblical heartland of Israel, the so-called West Bank.

Last night Hamas-affiliated students took the victory in student elections at Birzeit University, which lies just north of Ramallah—the de facto capital of the Palestinian Authority.

Birzeit and Ramallah are the supposed strongholds of the Palestinian Authority (PA), which rules over the Arabs of Judea and Samaria. But last night’s results show a changing tide, as the Hamas students took 28 of the 51-seat student council, while Fatah, the leading secular Palestinian political party that rules the PA, won just 18 seats.

When the last election was held in 2019, the Times of Israel reported, Hamas and Fatah tied, both taking 23 seats. Hamas’s influence is clearly growing, however, as many consider the student elections to reflect the trend in Arab public opinion.

Fatah and the PA

Fatah, a secular movement, is the leading Palestinian political party of the Palestinian Authority that rules the Palestinians living in Judea and Samaria. The Fatah movement arose in the late 1950s, started by several leaders, including Yasser Arafat and current PA President Mahmoud Abbas. The original movement was built on the ideology of an armed struggle against the Jewish state.

Fatah’s terrorism and violence throughout the 1960s cemented it as the leader of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), a terrorist organization responsible for many attacks, one of the most well-known being the murder of 11 Israeli athletes by PLO terrorists during the 1972 Olympics in Munich.

The PLO operated from strongholds in Jordan and Lebanon until it was ousted in 1972 and 1982, respectively. Thus, over the years, Fatah/PLO and the PA have softened their armed struggle largely into a war of words—though their leaders still call for and incite violence, rioting and terror attacks—instead preferring negotiation and even under-the-table cooperation with Israel.


Fatah and the PA’s willingness to negotiate with Israel does not sit well with Hamas, the fundamentalist, Islamist movement that arose as an offshoot of the Muslim Brotherhood movement in Egypt. Hamas sprang up in the late 1980s in Gaza after the First Intifada in Israel.

Hamas is an Arabic acronym for the Islamic Resistance Movement and means “zeal” (although it means “violence” in Hebrew). Both names aptly describe the Islamist movement, which does not recognize Israel’s statehood and calls for “armed resistance,” or terrorism and violence, against the Jewish state and its inhabitants.

The Rivalry

While both have the same goal of a sovereign Palestinian state, they go about it very differently. Both had violent beginnings, but Hamas has continued in its violence while the PA now prefers a softer form of uprising—which Hamas has called capitulation and treason to the Palestinian cause.

After decades of corruption and mismanagement, the Palestinian people appear to be growing weary of their Authority, preferring instead the simple, fundamentalist approach of Hamas. They ignore, however, Hamas’s own corruption and mismanagement in the Gaza Strip—after Hamas’s effective smear campaign of blaming its problems on Israel.

Shifting Tides

The debate before yesterday’s student election at Birzeit University was telling of the next generation’s attitudes toward each other—and toward Israel. Students from both movements claimed credit for spilling Jewish blood, while pointing fingers at the other side for not spilling enough.

“While Fatah’s leadership was weeping at the United Nations [during last year’s war with Gaza, known in Israel as Operation Guardian of the Wall, when terrorists in the Gaza Strip fired more than 4,300 rockets toward Israel], the resistance’s brigades were firing rockets at the occupied lands,” a Hamas-affiliated student shouted at the Fatah students, as quoted by the Times of Israel.

A Fatah student responded in turn, invoking the terrorist responsible for a deadly terror attack earlier this month in the central city of Elad in which a terrorist wielding an ax and a knife killed three Israeli men and injured several others.

“Subhi Sbeihat, who executed the Elad operation, is a member of Fatah’s youth—he is Fatah!” the student screamed, receiving, as the Times of Israel reported, resounding cheers from his fellow Fatah students.

Though they can both agree on one goal: the destruction of Israel, both groups go about it very differently.

Therefore, any future peace talks on the Israeli–Palestinian conflict are rendered nearly impossible, as the talks could not take place between Israel and the Palestinians while Hamas and the PA are fighting over leadership. One could not speak for the other or for the Palestinians as a whole at the negotiating table.

Although, Hamas, in its refusal to recognize Israel, would never agree to sit at the table in the first place, choosing instead to fire rockets and call on its followers to attack Jews with knives and axes. And based on last night’s results, more Palestinian youths might be willing to answer that call.

Posted on May 19, 2022

Source: (Bridges for Peace, May 19, 2022)

Photo Credit: Nalmimi/

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