Hamas has won an estimated 75% of the votes in the municipal elections in Shechem (Nablus), 72% of the votes in El-Bireh (Ramallah's twin city) and took the leadership of the terror-capital of Jenin as well. In Ramallah, long the seat of power of Yassir Arafat and the ruling Fatah group, the PFLP terror group took the elections.
In a previous round of voting, Hamas and the PFLP won elections in Bethlehem and Beit Jala, both just south of Jerusalem. Fatah only chalked up a victory in the Bethlehem suburb of Beit Sahur.
Local elections in Gaza and Hevron were delayed by the PA election committee. PA sources say the delay was due to concern of a wider-scale victory for Hamas, which appreciates massive support in both locales.
Crowds of Hamas supporters in Shechem celebrated in the streets Thursday night. The Hamas leadership, meanwhile, is promising future victories. "The big party will be when we win the parliamentary elections" Hamas spokesman Yasser Mansour said.
Hamas is listed as a terror organization in the United States and Europe. Fundraising for and affiliation with the group is a crime. It is unclear whether the world's nations, including Israel, will continue to assist the Palestinian Authority if a party advocating the destruction of Israel sits at its helm. In a recent election video, Hamas declared that it will not give up its armed struggle until Israel is destroyed.
In the aftermath of previous gains by Hamas and other terror groups, some commentators have suggested that support for Hamas indicates a rejection of Fatah corruption and not support for the group's terror attacks and public adulation of suicide-bombers. In the recent local elections, however ten other parties, many of them unaffiliated with terror groups, submitted candidates, yet Hamas won popular support.