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King of Gaza: Yahya Sinwar still holds large Palestinian support in Gaza

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A special analysis conducted by the business intelligence company “Buzzilla” for Maariv shows that in the last three weeks, the general discourse on Arabic language social media in Gaza has been mainly positive towards the Hamas terrorist organization in general and towards its leader in the Gaza Strip, Yahya Sinwar, in particular.

The data analysis showed that the general discourse towards Sinwar is positive—a surprising figure since discourse on social media tends to be critical.

The company’s experts point out that it is possible to detect an increase in the positive discourse towards Sinwar personally when threats against him from the Israeli side come up in the media.

For example, after the IDF spokesman stated that “the fighters will get to Sinwar alive or dead,” many reactions were seen on Gazan social media praising him as the one who surprised Israel, and despite all the intelligence in Israel’s possession, he is still in hiding.

No conversation calling for the release of the abductees was found during the inspection.

Yahya Sinwar, leader of Hamas in the Gaza Strip, attends a rally marking the anniversary of Land Day, in Gaza City on March 30, 2022 (credit: ATTIA MUHAMMED/FLASH90)

Analysis of support for Sinwar

In the first period, between February 25 and March 2, nearly 20,000 interactions dealing with Sinwar were recorded, with the great majority of them being positive.

The posters mainly responded to comments about the war with an emphasis on the possibility of a hostage deal, in which they praised and glorified his personality. For example, a comment was found in which one of the posters wished “that her son would be a leader like Sinwar.”

Alongside the positive discourse, many comments were found that blamed Israel for the situation in Gaza, wished for the “destruction of the Zionist enemy,” and prayed for the Palestinian people.

In the second period, from March 3 to March 9, there was a jump in the amount of discussion about Sinwar on Gazan social media.

Almost 44,000 interactions were found, with the assessment that the cause of the increase is the culture of reports about the possibility of a hostage release deal and a ceasefire before Ramadan.

Precisely during this period, there was a moderate increase in the number of negative reactions towards Sinwar and Hamas, possibly in anticipation of a pause in the fighting and an understanding of the size of the destruction in the Gaza Strip.

Negative reactions can be seen mainly in articles that review the damage in Gaza – starting with the displaced, through the destruction of the infrastructure, and ending with the dead.

In response to these publications, many posters can be seen asking, “Where is Sinwar?”.

The company’s experts also identified a broad discourse that directly blames the Gazan leader (“You destroyed us,” “It wasn’t worth it,” and even curses, “May God curse you, Sinwar”).

On the other hand, broad support was still identified among the posters and called to “destroy the Zionist enemy.”

In the third period, March 10 to March 13, there were again many positive reactions towards the leadership of Hamas in the Gaza Strip and many negative reactions towards Israel.

With Ramadan starting without achieving a pause in fighting, many comments were found that praised Sinwar as someone who “stands firm in the face of Israeli threats.”

The increase in the positive discourse towards Hamas is also attributed to the many reports according to which Israel apparently succeeded in eliminating the “Hamas Chief of Staff” Marwan Issa.

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