A Palestinian student group affiliated to the Hamas terror organization on Wednesday bested the group aligned to the rival Fatah movement in student council elections at Birzeit University in the West Bank.
Hamas, which controls the Gaza Strip, hailed the win — the second in as many years — as proof that Palestinians back the wave of violence against Israelis that began in October, and reject security cooperation with the Jewish state.
A spokesman for the university said that the Hamas-linked Islamic Wafaa’ won 25 seats on the council, followed by the Fatah-affiliated Martyr Yasser Arafat Bloc, which won 21 seats. The Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) won five seats.
Ahmad al-Ahmad, head of the students department at the university, said the election went smoothly.
Hamas political leader Khaled Mashaal said the victory was proof that the Islamist group’s push for a “Jerusalem Intifada” — its name for the seven-month wave of attacks — was backed by the Palestinian street.
“This win raises the voice of the mujahideen and the heroes of the Jerusalem Intifada,” said Mashaal, who is based in Qatar, according to a statement released by Hamas.
He expressed the belief that the election results were also a response to PA President Mahmoud Abbas’s continual support for security coordination with Israel, which he called “weakness and begging.”
The wave of attacks against Israelis seemed to be petering out over the last month, until a bus bombing rocked the capital on April 18, injuring 20 people. The bomber, who later died as a result of his injuries, was claimed by a local Hamas affiliate group in his hometown of Bethlehem. Hamas’s leaders praised the attack and went to great lengths to advertise the bomber’s connection to the group, but stopped short of claiming responsibility.
Agencies contributed to this report