Hamas official: Hamas' Gaza leader Yahya Sinwar re-elected
Hamas chief Yahya Sinwar was re-elected on Wednesday as the Palestinian group’s leader in the besieged Gaza Strip, leaving a figure closely aligned with the hard-line wing in charge of the group's strategy in its main stronghold.
Bassem Naim, a senior Hamas figure, confirmed that Sinwar had fended off a challenge from Nizar Awadallah, one of Hamas' founders. Sinwar will serve another four-year term.
Sinwar is a former member of the group’s military wing who spent over two decades in an Israeli prison after being convicted of murdering two Israelis.
He was released in a 2011 prisoner swap. Sinwar maintains close ties to the military wing.
Sinwar was elected to the post in 2017.
His re-election comes ahead of 22 May Palestinian legislative elections, the first Palestinian vote in 15 years.
Hamas, which has controlled Israeli-blockaded Gaza since 2007, is a key player in that vote, along with the Fatah movement led by Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas. Fatah controls the Israeli-occupied West Bank.
Hamas's internal elections are normally shrouded in secrecy but some leaders in the Islamist group have called for greater transparency.
The overall head of Hamas's political wing, Ismail Haniyeh, is currently based in Qatar.