GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip — Hamas was the product of Palestinian youth efforts in the 1980s, and those young men have grown up and become today’s leaders. Now that Hamas has been ruling the Gaza Strip since 2006, is the role of youth in the movement confined to fighting and media roles, and restricted from leadership? Why is there no leader in Hamas under 40? The movement’s youngest leader is 40-year-old Mushir al-Masri, a Palestinian Legislative Council member from the Change and Reform Bloc.
A 2014 study by the Institute for Development Studies, “Mapping Youth Political Participation in Palestine,” revealed that the participation rate of Hamas youths between 18 and 35 in the West Bank, the Gaza Strip and abroad, is 0% in senior positions, 7% in lower leading committees and 4% in Hamas’ elected committees. These low rates coincide with mounting criticism among the Islamic party's young members.