Hamas recently held secret elections for the leadership of the organization’s Gaza political bureau, officials in the militant group told Haaretz. According to the officials, Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh won the race by a significant margin.
The win in effect makes Haniyeh the Strip’s first recognized Hamas political leader since Israel’s assassination of Hamas’ former Gaza political chief Abdel Aziz al-Rantissi in 2004.
Speaking to Haaretz, Hamas officials said that the utterly covert elections were held less than two weeks ago, in which voters elected the 77 members of the group’s advisory council in Gaza, as well as the 15 members of the Strip’s Hamas politburo, Gaza’s most powerful political institution.
Other than bolstering Haniyeh’s position, the Hamas elections marked several additional and interesting trends. First, two of those released as part of the Gilad Shalit swap deal quickly made their way into the groups’ leadership.
Yehia Sanwar, one of Shalit’s abductors, the brother of whom is considered to be one of the founders of Hamas’ military wing, and Rawhi Mushtaha, his one-time deputy, were both elected to the Hamas’ political bureau in the Strip.
For more, go to Haaretz.com