Haniyeh Reelected as Chief of Hamas

GAZA (Reuters) —
hamas israel
Hamas chief Ismail Haniyeh. (Reuters/Mohammed Salem)

Ismail Haniyeh has been reelected as leader of the Islamist Hamas terror group, officials said on Sunday, cementing his control of the organization which rules the Gaza Strip and has fought multiple violent conflicts against Israel.

Haniyeh, Hamas chief since 2017, has controlled the group’s political activities in Yehudah, Shomron, Gaza, and the diaspora largely from outside Gaza, splitting his time between Turkey and Qatar for the past two years.

He directed Hamas in an 11-day conflict with Israel in May. An Egyptian-mediated ceasefire has mostly held since.

“Brother Ismail Haniyeh was reelected as the head of the movement’s political office for a second time,” one Palestinian official told Reuters following an internal election by party members. His term will last four years.

Aged 58, Haniyeh was the right-hand man to Hamas founder Sheikh Ahmed Yassin in Gaza, before the wheelchair-bound cleric was assassinated in 2004.

Haniyeh led Hamas‘ entry into politics in 2006, when they were surprise victors in Palestinian parliamentary elections, defeating a divided Fatah party led by Chairman Mahmoud Abbas.

He became prime minister shortly after the January 2006 victory, but Hamas – which is deemed a terrorist organization by the United States, Israel and the European Union – was shunned by the international community.

Following a brief civil war, Hamas seized Gaza from the Fatah-dominated Palestinian Authority, which has limited self-rule in the Israeli-occupied West Bank, in 2007. Israel has led a blockade of Gaza since then, citing threats from Hamas.

Haniyeh’s victory caps internal elections that also saw the group’s Gaza chief, Yehya Al-Sinwar, win a second term in March.

Further votes were delayed by May’s upsurge in violence.

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