Hardline commander named as Hamas new leader

Hamas names top militant commander as new hard-line leader in Gaza

The Palestinian militant group Hamas has elected a hardline commander of its armed wing as the movement’s overall leader in the Gaza strip.

Yehiya Sinwar replaces Ismail Haniyeh, a former Prime Minister in the territory’s Hamas-run government.

Mr Sinwar was jailed in Israel for murder but freed under a deal when Hamas released an Israeli in 2011.

He had been serving a life sentence for the murder of Palestinians suspected of collaboration with Israel, and was accused of overseeing the torture and killing of a fellow Hamas commander in Gaza last year.

During his final years in prison, he was the leader of the hundreds of Hamas prisoners held by Israel.

Hamas rejects Israel’s right to exist and Mr Sinwar is known to oppose any compromise with the Jewish state.

Yehiya Sinwar’s election is seen as a sign of the growing power of Hamas’ armed wing, which exists alongside the political side of the movement in Gaza.

The military wing, which controls thousands of fighters and a vast arsenal of rockets, has battled Israel in three wars since Hamas seized control of Gaza a decade ago.

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