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Hamas Picks Convicted Murderer as Its New Leader in Gaza

A Palestinian terrorist with multiple murder convictions has been elected as Hamas’ new political leader in the Gaza Strip, an official for the Islamist group confirmed on Monday.

Yehya Sinwar, in his mid 50s, is known as an influential and unpredictable hardliner who rejects any reconciliation with Israel. He helped found the al-Majd intelligence unit, an early prototype of the Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades, which serve as Hamas’ armed forces. Sinwar was sentenced to life in prison by an Israeli court in 1989 for killing Palestinians suspected of working with the IDF, but continued directing terrorist attacks while incarcerated. He was released in a 2011 prisoner swap to free Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit and added to the U.S. terrorism blacklist in 2015.

At the time of the prisoner swap, Sinwar was “most senior prisoner released, and clearly destined for leadership,” The New York Times reported. Since returning to Gaza, Sinwar has “consolidated his power and his harsh reputation,” the Times added. He is believed to have orchestrated the arrest, torture, and eventual execution of Mahmoud Ishtiwi, a senior figure in the al-Qassam Brigades.

A profile on the al-Qassam Brigades’ website describes Sinwar as “Silent, active, and [possessing] a unique ability to dialogue and persuade people to revert back to Islam as a way of life.”

Yaron Blum, formerly a senior Israeli intelligence official, told Israel Radio that Sinwar “is charismatic, he is not corrupt, he is modest and he advocates action. He will do everything to maximise and gain the most from the bodies of [Israeli soldiers] Oron Shaul and Hadar Goldin and [captive Israeli] Avraham Abera Mengistu and the Bedouin that Hamas is holding. He will do all he can to carry out terror attacks.”

Dr. Kobi Michael, a senior research fellow at Israel’s Institute for National Security Studies, said in a conference call with reporters that Sinwar “represents the most radical and extreme line of Hamas.”

“He’s affiliated with Iran. He’s supported by Iran. And he prefers the Iranian axis and the cooperation with ISIS in Sinai,” Michael explained. “And I think that the idea that he was elected is something that indicates, a sort of, I would say, winning of the extremist and the radical line in Hamas.”

A complete recording of Michael’s conference call is embedded below.

[Source: afpbr / YouTube ]