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The Day Post Abbas: Where Palestinians On Social Media Stand

Executive Summary

  • “The Day after Abbas”, or scenarios for the Palestinian society in the period following the death of Chairman of the Palestinian Authority Mahmoud Abbas (“Abu Mazen”), is presenting Israel, the Palestinians and the Middle East with both great uncertainly alongside unprecedented opportunities. During his 19-year-long tenure, Chairman Abbas from the Palestinian faction Fatah has avoided holding formal elections while holding on to power, as his popularity is plummeting and the Palestinian Authority itself is losing its legitimacy in the eyes of the Palestinian public. This implies that the vacuum left after his departure from the stage could trigger instability, in light of the fragmentation that is characterizing the Palestinian society, with clanships, local affiliations and local militant factions who control enclaves in supposedly PA-control areas.

  • Inspecting the Palestinian public’s view on the different political factions – Fatah and Hamas, alongside the Popular Front, Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ), and independent militant factions such as the Lions’ Den – could lay the groundwork for a better understanding of the temperature in the Palestinian street and the risk of a major political overhaul in PA-controlled areas or localities.

  • For that purpose, we compared several indexes:

    • Exclusive research of Telegram groups and channels that are operated by or sympathize with the above Palestinian factions, and compared their engagement and reach to learn about the political tendencies among Palestinians.

    • Exclusive research of TikTok hashtags – the engagement Hamas-affiliated hashtags gain as opposed to Fatah, as well as engagement according to geographic location in specific Palestinian cities. TikTok is a predominant and popular social media among the Palestinian society for political expression, while unlike other societies, Facebook and Twitter are significantly less popular, especially among the youth.

    • Exclusive research of Twitter followers – followers of Hamas-affiliated accounts as opposed to Fatah.

    • Exclusive research of Facebook subscribers – subscribers of Hamas-affiliated pages as opposed to Fatah.

    • Exclusive outlook at elections conducted in major Palestinian universities – the only free elections in the Palestinian society since 2005.

    • Exclusive opinion poll among Israeli Jews and Arabs on the Day After Abbas.

    • Exclusive compilation of publicly-available data from opinion polls among Palestinians conducted by the Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research.

  • These results have shown surprising correlation, which indicates their credibility and sheds a new light and an often-disregarded angle of the real sentiments among Palestinians on their political institutions and their view on the way their future should be shaped.

  • This project was conducted as complementary to a comprehensive study on The Day After Abbas, which includes scenarios, strategic goals, comprehensive actor mapping (groups and office holders), and content analysis that maps repetitive and typical messaging of Hamas and Fatah.


All data featured in this chapter is owned by the “Palestinian Media Watch” research institute and was commissioned by IDSF-Habithonistim – Israel’s Defense and Security Forum.


  • After monitoring and collecting Telegram groups and channels for 11 months, we managed to join 232 Palestinian sources, of which 175 support one of the five main factions – Fatah and the Palestinian Authority (PA) under its control, Hamas, the Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ), the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) and the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine (DFLP) – together with non-political organizations, such as Lion’s Den. We compared their engagement according to the following criteria:

    • Number of groups and channels

    • Number of subscribers

  • We crossed this data according to two methods: general comparison, and comparison of sources with +10,000 subscribers.

  • The channels vary in size, with the smallest channel having approximately 32 members and the largest having approximately 248,449 members.

  • Through the analysis of the organizational affiliation of each of the sources, it is possible to generate data that opens a window to Palestinian society and give tantalizing hints of possible political developments in the Palestinian Authority.

Key findings

  • Out of 175 Telegram groups and channels with a total of 2,428,859 users, it appears that the relative popularity of Hamas is higher than that of Fatah.

    • 78 groups and channels (44.6%) are identified with Hamas, as opposed to 67 (38.3%) who are identified with Fatah, 15 (8.6%) with PIJ, and 11 (6.3%) with independent factions such as the Lions’ Den. Other factions – PFLP and DFLP – only have 2 and 1 sources that are identified with them.

    • The average number of members per Fatah-affiliated channel is 9,622.18 whilst the average number of members per Hamas-affiliated channel is 12,833.78.

    • Of all the big channels – those whose members exceed 10,000 – of which 34.9% are affiliated with Fatah and an identical number are affiliated with Hamas, Hamas gets 40.7% of all members on these channels while Fatah only gets 24.4% – approximately 10% less than its footfall. Hamas channels 57,991.93, and Fatah channels get just 34,704 members per major channel on average.

  • In addition to Fatah and Hamas, there are also independent factions, such as the Lions’ Den, that are not affiliated with any of the big organizations and focus on apolitically uniting forces for the benefit of an armed struggle.

    • The average number of members per communication channel of the independent factions is 32,504.45, and not far behind lies the PIJ with an average of 26,277.26 members per channel.

    • Among the major channels, the average number of members per channel representing or affiliated with independent factions reaches 86,620, and PIJ channels with 53,404.71.

  • Comparison with real-life political distribution showed correlation with the Telegram data: In Betlehem, a Fatah-controlled city, the official Fatah channel has approximately 4,500 subscribed users, while its counterpart from Hamas only has approximately 380 subscribed users. At Bir Zeit University, unlike Bethlehem, where the Hamas-affiliated list has recently won the student association’s election, dominates a sentiment that leans toward Hamas: the channel of the student movement of Fatah – “Shabiba” – in Bir Zeit has approximately 940 subscribed users, compared to the channel of the student movement of Hamas, which has approximately 5,050 subscribed users.


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