Terror group Hamas has elected a new political leader in the Gaza Strip to replace Ismail Haniyeh, Palestinian media reported Monday. Haniyeh, meanwhile, is slated to replace Khaled Mashaal as the terrorist organization’s political bureau chief.
Qatar-based leader Mashaal announced last year that he would be stepping down from his current role. According to reports, Haniyeh’s successor in Gaza, Yahya Sinwar, was elected in a secret ballot vote.
Sinwar, 52, is a known Hamas hard-liner and a senior member of the terror group’s “military wing,” the Izzedine al-Qassam Brigades. He was released from an Israeli prison as part of the 2011 Gilad Shalit prisoner exchange with Israel, after having spent 22 years behind bars over the murder of Palestinians accused of collaborating with Israel. He was also involved in the planning of the 1994 abduction and murder of Israeli soldier Nachshon Wachsman.
Sinwar was appointed to Hamas’s political wing four years ago and succeeded in creating a new position—a liaison between the terrorist group’s “political” and “military” wings—gaining him considerable influence within the organization. In fact, Sinwar is widely considered the most powerful man in Gaza today.