Hamas elects new radical leader in Gaza
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, takes the reins to rule the strip from Khaled Mashal, despite Ismail Haniyeh being slated to fill the top spot: Upon his release, Sanwar called for further kidnappings of IDF soldiers.
Khalil al-Hayya has been chosen to serve as Sinwar’s deputy.
Sinwar 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.
He has developed a reputation as being among the most radical in Hamas, calling since his release for further kidnappings of IDF soldiers, and is thought of as the link between the military and political wing the terror organization.
With his ascent to power, Sinwar 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, Sinwar 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 our resistance.”
During the same speech, the staunch Hamas activist 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.
Sinwar, 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 Sinwar—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 Sinwar who was responsible for forces in Khan Yunis.
As far as Sinwar’s new deputy is concerned, Khalil al-Haya has also earned a reputation for being among the more radical elements of Hamas and was a member of the negotiating team in the Shalit negotiations.
His son was killed in Protective Edge after the Israel Air Force struck his home.