© Reuters. Palestinian group Hamas’ top leader, Ismail Haniyeh talks after meeting with Lebanese Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri in Beirut, Lebanon June 28, 2021. REUTERS/Aziz Taher/Files
By Nidal al-Mughrabi
GAZA (Reuters) – Ismail Haniyeh has been elected to a second term as head of Hamas, the Palestinian Islamist group that controls the Gaza Strip, two Palestinian officials told Reuters on Sunday.
“Brother Ismail Haniyeh was re-elected as the head of the movement’s political office for a second time,” one official told Reuters. His term will last four years.
Haniyeh, the group’s leader since 2017, has controlled its political activities throughout several armed confrontations with Israel – including an 11-day conflict in May that left over 250 in Gaza and 13 in Israel dead.
He was the right-hand man to Hamas founder Sheikh Ahmed Yassin in Gaza, before the wheelchair-bound cleric was assassinated in 2004.
Haniyeh, 58, led Hamas’ entry into politics in 2006, when they were surprise victors in Palestinian parliamentary elections, defeating a divided Fatah party led by President Mahmoud Abbas.
Haniyeh became prime minister shortly after the January 2006 victory, but Hamas – which is deemed a terrorist organisation 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.
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