Following elections for the terror organization’s internal leadership, Yahya Sanwar, a renowned radical in Hamas who was released as part of the Shalit deal, will rule the strip replacing Khaled Mashal, despite Ismail Haniyeh having been slated to hold the top position.
By Elior Levi
Yahya Sanwar has been elected to lead Hamas in the Gaza Strip after internal elections were held for the organization’s institutional and leadership positions, according to reports from Al Jazeera.Sanwar was on the most senior officials released by Israel in the Shalit deal in which hundreds of terrorists and political prisoners were released in exchange for the return of captured IDF soldier Gilad Shalit.
With his ascent to power, Sanwar will take the reins to rule the strip from Khaled Mashal, despite Ismail Haniyeh being slated to fill the top spot.
When released from prison in 2011, Sanwar lamented the fact that other prisoners still remained in Israeli jails. “We feel that we left our hearts behind us, we left many prisoners behind. This is a great victory for our people and out resistance.”
During the same speech, the stanch Hamas activists called on Hamas’ military wing, the Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades, to undertake fierce efforts to kidnap more soldiers to bring about the release of more Palestinian prisoners.
Sanwar, who for a long period of time has been marked as a potential candidate in the elections, represents stark differences from his predecessor Mashal.
Born into a family of fighters, which was an integral part of the military wing, he is considered to be ascetic, strong, tough and the possessor of extreme discipline.
He distances himself from the media, which accounts for one of the reasons why he is less well known in Israel, despite his key role in Hamas.
During Operation Protective Edge, the new leader’s brother, Mohammad Sanwar—who was the architect of the Shalit deal—had his home attacked by the IDF.
The IDF Spokesperson’s Unit confirmed at the time that, with the cooperation with the Shin Bet, the homes of two senior Hamas activists had been attacked after they were being used as a command and control center of the organization, among them, the home of Mohammad Sanwar who was responsible for forces in Khan Yunis.
His son was killed in Protective Edge after the Israel Air Force struck his home.
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