Gaza: Hamas has elected Yahya Sinwar, a hardliner, as its next leader in the Gaza Strip. Current Prime Minister of the Hamas, Ismail Haniyeh, made Sinwar’s announcement. It is claimed that Haniyeh will be handling other responsibilities after the election of Sinwar. It is believed that Hamas’ announcement of Sinwar as their new leader, known for his hatred for Israel, made just a few hours before Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s visit to the US is a warning to Israel.
In 2007, Hamas drove off leaders and supporters of Fatah, the political fighters for Palestine from the Gaza strip and took over it. Also, Hamas created their own government and started ruling, with Haniyeh as the Prime Minister. He was in charge of Gaza strip as well as Westbank region of Hamas for last ten years. Whereas, Khaled Mashal, who was in charge of Hamas’s main office in Syria, was the head of the organization as a whole.
However due to the ongoing friction over last few years, Palestinians from Syria had to flee to Lebanon and Jordan. Mashal, the leader of Hamas has taken a refuge at Qatar. It is said that Mashal’s popularity amongst Hamas as well as amongst Palestinian people living in Gaza is decreasing. Two months back, Mashal had warned about Hamas’s terrorists’ strong preparations to attack Israel. He also added that Hamas terrorists are smuggling lots of weapons through underground tunnels. But, Mashal was severely criticized from the Gaza strip for revealing this information.
On the other hand, few weeks back there were news about differences between Hamas’s political front and ‘Al-Qassam Brigade’, the armed organization. There was a strong demand of a new leadership in Hamas due to increased activity of Israeli military at the Gaza border. At the same time, elections have been announced in Westbank and the Gaza strip. While Khaled Mashal has decided to refrain from these elections, Haniyeh has announced his candidature for the elections.
On this background, on Monday, Haniyeh declared “Yahya Sinvar” as the leader of Hamas in the Gaza strip. Sinvar is known for his anti-Israeli views. Few years back, Israel had arrested Sinvar and given him life sentence for his role in killing Palestinians who were seeking proximity with Israel. However in 2011, Hamas had negotiated with Israel against the release of some of its prisoners, including Sinvar in return for Israel’s soldier Gilad Shilat.
Sinvar had taken a jibe at Israel for releasing only few Hamas leaders in exchange for Israel’s soldier. On his release, Sinvar consolidated his hold on Hamas’s military wing in the Gaza strip. Few weeks ago, Hamas terrorist had crossed the Israeli border and killed two Israel soldiers. Following this, Hamas terrorists kept the dead bodies of these soldiers in their custody. Israel has been trying to regain the dead bodies. It is said that Sinvar could ask for the release of all its Palestinian prisoners in Israel in exchange for the dead bodies of these Israeli soldiers. Israeli officers have also claimed that Sinvar has formed an armed terrorist group to attack Israel. Therefore, the election of such a radical leader as the chief of Hamas is tantamount to increased tension in the Gaza strip and Israel. While Israel has made its stand even more aggressive by building colonies at Westbank, the rise of a radical leader in the Gaza strip is turning out to be a scary incident indicatiing bloodshed conflicts.