Ismail Haniyeh has been re-elected as the head of Hamas, officials have announced, strengthening his power in the organization which governs the Gaza Strip.
“Brother Ismail Haniyeh was re-elected as the head of the movement’s political office for a second time,” a Palestinian official told a news agency on Sunday following an internal election by party members. He won unopposed. His term will last four years.
Aged 58, Haniya was the right-hand man to Hamas’ founder, Sheikh Ahmed Yassin, in Gaza, before the wheelchair-bound leader of the group was assassinated in 2004 in an Israeli air attack.
Haniyeh, Hamas’ chief since 2017, has coordinated the group’s political actions in Gaza, the Israeli-occupied West Bank, and the diaspora, mainly from outside Gaza, allocating his time between Turkey and Qatar for the past two years.
Haniyeh led Hamas’ entry into politics in 2006, when they were the surprise victors in the Palestinian parliamentary election the same year, defeating a divided Fatah party led by President Mahmoud Abbas.
He directed Hamas in an 11-day conflict with Israel in May 2021, in which more than 250 people were killed in Gaza. An arbitrated ceasefire has been held between Israel and Hamas since May 21, with occasional violations made by Tel Aviv.