On Friday, during an appearance on CNN’s Anderson Cooper 360, Rami Igra, a former division chief for the Israeli intelligence agency Mossad, told Cooper there was no such thing as a “non-combatant population in the Gaza Strip” because “all of the Gazans voted for Hamas” and “most of the population in the Gaza strip are Hamas.”
In his words:
“As you will have seen in the last couple of weeks, the fighting is very surgical. It is slow. It is very methodical. We are trying not to reach any of the non-combatant population in the Gaza Strip.”
However, he adds: “Now, again, one little note, the non-combatant population in the Gaza Strip is really a non-existent term because all of the Gazans voted for the Hamas, and as we have seen on the 7th of October, most of the population in the Gaza Strip are Hamas.”
He concludes, “Nonetheless, we are treating them as non-combatants, we are treating them as regular civilians, and they are spared from the fighting.”
Whether the fighting is surgical and methodical and if the IDF is treating the civilian Gazans as non-combatants is beyond my expertise. And opinions on the subject will depend on who you think is “right." This diary only addresses the truth of Igra’s statement, “All of the Gazans voted for the Hamas.” Fortunately, unlike his other statements, Igra's voting contention can be addressed empirically.
The last Palestinian election, which took place in both the Gaza Strip and the West Bank, was held in January 2006. Hamas won a plurality of the votes (44.45%) and ended up with a majority in the Palestinian Legislative Council.
I can find no English language source that isolates the results in the Gaza Strip, But the map above shows that Hamas had similar mixed results there as it did on the West Bank. So, for argument's sake and simplicity, I will say that Hamas won 50% of the vote. (Note: even if they won 100% of the vote, it would not change the conclusion of this essay)
The salient fact is that this last election in the Gaza Strip took place almost 18 years ago.
Gaza has one of the youngest populations in the world. The median age of Gazans is 18. This means that c.50% of Gazans alive today were born after that election. A further c.25% are under 36, making them too young to have voted in 2006.
This means that c.25% of contemporary Gazans were old enough to vote in 2006.
The percentage of Gazans who voted for Hamas
The turnout was 76%. Therefore, only 19% of today's Gazans actually voted then. And 50% of them (see above) voted for Hamas. Which means 10% (rounding up) of living Gazans voted for Hamas.
Those are the numbers. Even if you added 50% to the total (making it 15%) — which will more than account for any low-ball figures — 85% of Gazans did not vote for Hamas.
No matter how you slice it, Igra’s claim that “all of the Gazans voted for Hamas” is inaccurate.
This does not mean that Igra is necessarily wrong when he says that “most of the population in the Gaza strip are Hamas.” Except he offers no evidence. Maybe because he has none.
Even if he is correct that the vast majority of Gazans support Hamas, we have to remember that almost 50% of the population are minors. And, at least by American mores, we do not consider them old enough to make political choices. It is why the voting age is 18.
Some people may also argue that the Hamas vote was not pro-terror as much as it was a vote against the corrupt Fatah. But that is beyond the scope of this diary.
I lived in England through the Northern Irish ‘Troubles.” Both sides argued they had the moral high ground. Their supporters could provide a raft of reasons why their side was in the right. I am sure some DK readers have strong thoughts on the subject. But let us note that in the end, peace was negotiated after 30 years of conflict — because neither side had the resources to win that asymmetric conflict.
Nothing in this piece should be taken as support for one side over the other. It merely analyses one quantifiable claim made by one person.