Haniyeh re-elected as chief of Palestinian group Hamas

Haniyeh re-elected as chief of Palestinian group Hamas
2 min read
Ismail Haniyeh has been re-elected as leader of the Palestinian group Hamas, which runs the Gaza Strip.
Ismail Haniyeh has been overall head of Hamas since 2017 [Getty]

Ismail Haniyeh has been re-elected as leader of the Palestinian Islamist group Hamas, officials said on Sunday, cementing his control of the organization which rules the Gaza Strip and has fought multiple wars with Israel.

Haniyeh, Hamas chief since 2017, has controlled the group's political activities in Gaza, the Israeli-occupied West Bank and the diaspora largely from outside Gaza, splitting his time between Turkey and Qatar for the past two years.

He directed Hamas during Israel's 11-day assault on Gaza in May that left over 250 Palestinians dead and hundreds more wounded.

An Egyptian-mediated ceasefire has mostly held since.

"Brother Ismail Haniyeh was re-elected 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.

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Haniyeh 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.

He became prime minister shortly after the January 2006 victory, but Hamas - which is considered a terrorist organisation by the United States and Israel - was shunned by the international community.

Following a brief conflict, Hamas seized Gaza from the Fatah-dominated Palestinian Authority, which has limited self-rule in the Israeli-occupied West Bank, in 2007. Israel has imposed a crippling siege on Gaza since then.

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 Israeli assault on Gaza.