Ismail Haneyya elected new chairman of Hamas
Hamas Movement announced on Saturday the election of Ismail Haneyya as its new political bureau chairman.
The Qatari Al-Jazeera TV network quoted Khaled Mishaal, the current political bureau chairman of Hamas, as saying that the Shura Council of the Movement elected Haneyya to be his successor.
Anadolu news agency said that the elections were concurrently conducted in two sessions: one in Gaza and the other in Doha via video conference.
A number of Hamas leaders headed by Haneyya were supposed to participate in the elections in Doha, but could not travel due to the closure of Rafah crossing.
Haneyya has become the third chairman of Hamas political bureau after Khaled Mishaal who served the position from 1996 and Mousa Abu Marzouk who served the same position from 1992 to 1995.
Mishaal, who announced on Saturday the end of his mandate, said that he was offered many other positions in the Movement, but he apologized.
Mishaal told Al-Jazeera that electing Haneyya reflects easy leadership transition inside Hamas Movement.
“All of Hamas members side with Haneyya and the new leadership”, he added. Mishaal also underlined that he along with Hamas members trust the new leadership’s ability to shoulder the responsibility for liberating prisoners and Occupied Jerusalem as well as lifting the Gaza siege.
The Hamas spokesman Abdullatif Qanoa said “The elections were carried out on time despite difficult circumstances that the Movement is passing through. This indicates Hamas’s strong internal bonds and institutionalized system”.
Haneyya was born in 1963 to a poor refugee family in the Shati refugee camp. He grew up in the camp and continued to live there with his wife and his 13 children, even after he became Gaza premier.
In 1981, he joined the Islamic University of Gaza and in 1987 he graduated with a degree in Arabic literature.
While at university, he joined the Islamic Student Bloc, which is affiliated with Hamas. From 1984 to 1986 he was head of the students’ council.
Haneyya was arrested for three times by the Israeli occupation authorities. He was imprisoned for 18 days in 1987, and again in 1988 for six months.
In 1989, he was re-arrested and sentenced to three years in jail in connection with his role in the resistance. On his release in 1992, Haneyya was deported to Marj al-Zuhur in southern Lebanon, for over a year, along with more than 400 leaders from Hamas and the Islamic Jihad from the West Bank and the Gaza Strip.
Haneyya was elected as member in the Palestinian Legislative Council in 2006, and before that he served as the Secretary-General of the Board of Trustees of the Islamic University in Gaza.
In the last internal elections of the Islamic Resistance Movement, Haneyya was elected as the deputy head of the political bureau.
The Hamas leader has survived an assassination attempt by the Israeli occupation forces. In September 2003, he miraculously survived an Israeli air strike on a building where Hamas leaders, including Sheikh Ahmad Yasin, were meeting.