Hamas, Which The US Considers A Terror Group, Elects A New Leader

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Gaza-based Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh was elected chairman of the Hamas Politburo, outgoing Politburo Chairman Khaled Meshaal said on Saturday.

Haniyeh succeeds Hamas' longtime exiled leader Khaled Mashaal, and the move comes shortly after Gaza's rulers unveiled a new, seemingly more pragmatic political program aimed at ending the group's worldwide isolation.

The 54-year-old's sudden return to power is regarded as another sign of a shift within the movement that has been governing Gaza for a decade to recolate the diaspora in Gaza.

Haniyeh, a former Hamas prime minister in Gaza, could be hampered in his new leadership role by movement restrictions. Some political analysts and United Nations officials believe a more regular engagement with Hamas's political wing could help moderate the group's overall position.

Israeli authorities put the current figure at 860 hunger strikers, while Palestinian officials say 1,500 have been participating.

Israel has fought three wars with Hamas since 2008, and maintains a crippling blockade on Gaza. In February, the group chose Yahya Sanwar, one of Hamas' most extreme and violent leaders, to replace him.

Netanyahu not only clearly explains why CNN and the Times were reporting fake news but provides a nice finishing touch by tossing the Hamas report into a trash bucket.

Ismail Haniyeh was born in Shati refugee camp on May 23, 1963, where his parents fled from Ashkelon city after the Palestinian Nakba.

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Over the years, Hamas had a leadership-in-exile that raised funds or courted political support from countries like Iran and Syria, while the Hamas military wing, Izzedine al-Qassam, attacked Israeli targets from Gaza and the West Bank.

The announcement caps several months of voting among Hamas' far-flung members in Gaza, the West Bank, Israeli jails and overseas to select a replacement for Meshaal, who sought to step down.

"Hamas will intensify relations with those already talking to it and could possibly surprise all the critics and create huge embarrassment for Abbas", the official said on condition of anonymity. Through the fall and winter, Egypt had opened its Rafah crossing with Gaza a couple of times a month and allowed goods into Gaza.

Just last March, Israel authorities arrested Muhammad Murtaja, the Gaza branch head of the Turkish Cooperation and Development Agency (TIKA) after it was discovered that he was using money given to his branch for humanitarian purposes to arm and train Hamas operatives against Israel.

Haniyeh used to be active within the "Islamic bloc, the student arm of the Muslim Brotherhood, where from Hamas has emerged".

His election came days after Hamas unveiled a revised charter that dropped its pledge for Israel's destruction and accepted a Palestinian state along the borders set before Israel occupied the West Bank and Gaza during the 1967 Arab-Israeli war.

Haniya served several sentences in Israeli jails in the 1980s and '90s, and briefly served as prime minister of a Palestinian unity government after the 2006 elections. The deal collapsed, with both political camps refusing to give up control in their respective territories.