The survey was published this week by the Palestinian Centre for Public Opinion in Beit Sahur in the West Bank.
Conducted by Nabil Kukali, Professor of Statistics at Hebron University, it showed that nearly 61% of Palestinians had their own personal computers (PCs).
In sheer numbers, this means that over two million people out of the estimated 3.7 million population of the West Bank, Gaza strip and East Jerusalem own or have access to PCs.
Kukali told Aljazeera.Net that he expected the figure to grow rapidly as internet becomes an important and relatively cheap communication medium among Palestinians.
Since 2001, computer and internet literacy figures in the occupied Palestinian territories grew by 25%.
According to the poll, conducted in the last week of August and covered a randomly-chosen sample of 1040 adults over 18 years, showed that nearly 38% of the Palestinians (1.37 million) use the internet. Of those, 31% were internet subscribers
Internet use in Palestinian
When asked how often they use the medium, 23% of users said daily, 27.4% said more than three times a week, 13% once or twice a week and another 13% 1-4 times a month. Four percent said they used the internet 1-12 times in the past few months.
When further asked to specify the location of the service, 49.6% said at home, 20% said at work, 18.5% at internet cafes, while nearly 12% said they access internet at universities and other academic or government institutions.
As to their main purpose of internet use, more than 35% of users mentioned “News and current affairs” and “educational purposes,” 22% mentioned “social chatting,” 7% “educational references,” 10% “business information and contacts.”
About 24% mentioned other fields such as recreation, consumer information and purchases, sport and travel and tourism information.
Kukali said he believed that there were two main factors contributing to the dramatic growth of internet use among Palestinians in the occupied territories.
First, the early introduction of internet to Palestinian schools, junior colleges and universities.
And, second, the “political reality” whereby the Israeli closure and control of Palestinian freedom of movement and travel have forced most Palestinian to resort to internet as an alternative medium of communication with the outside world.
“We have many graduate students who study abroad via the Internet since they are barred by Israel to travel”
“We have many graduate students who study abroad via the internet since they are barred by Israel to travel.”
Many educated Palestinians, especially those with fluency in foreign languages, also use the internet to communicate the Palestinian reality and grievances to the outside world.
This observation is recognized by El Hacohen, Director of the Tel Aviv University’s Netvision institute for Internet Research.
In an interview with the Israeli English Language Newspaper, the Jerusalem Post, on Thursday, he described Palestinian internet and computer habits as “interesting.”
“We know that Palestinians are very aware of the internet and make extensive, impressive and professional use of it for spreading word of their causes. Our institution recently ran a large conference on dialogue with Palestinians via internet and found the web can be a bridge for dialogue between Israelis and Palestinians.”