There appears to have developed a tight battle for political leadership in the Gaza Strip during Tuesday's internal elections held by Hamas terror organization.
Hamas this week is holding elections to pick the head of their Gaza political branch - the group's de facto leader in the Palestinian enclave, sources from within the terror group have said.
Although there are five candidates contesting the election, the main battle appears to be between current political leader Yahya Sinwar and his main opponent Nizar Awadallah.
At the moment, it seems that no candidate received more than 50% of the votes and there are preparations under way for a second round of voting between Sinwar and Awadallah.
Lebanese TV channel Al-Mayadeen said Awadallah was leading Sinwar by seven votes after the first round of voting.
Sinwar is a former commander of Hamas's military branch who served more than two decades in an Israeli prison before being released in 2011 as part of a prisoner exchange. Awadallah, meanwhile, is the former head of Hamas's advisory Shura Council.
Hamas sources, who requested anonymity, said the result announced "next week".
Sinwar was elected to the post in 2017.
The poll comes ahead of May 22 Palestinian legislative elections, the first such vote in 15 years. Hamas is a key player in that vote, along with the Fatah movement - led by Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas - that controls the West Bank.
Hamas's internal elections are normally shrouded in secrecy but some leaders in the Islamist group have called for greater transparency.
The overall head of Hamas's political wing, Ismail Haniyeh, is currently based in Qatar.
Elections for that post are also expected soon, with Haniyeh due to run against his deputy Jamal al-Aruri and former Hamas chief Khaled Meshal.
In addition to its political wing, Hamas has an armed branch that counts thousands of fighters in Gaza.
First published: 18:52 , 03.09.21