In a political shuffle, a founding member of the Gaza-based Islamist terror group Hamas, who has close ties to Syria and Iran, was recently appointed head of the group’s political wing in Gaza.
Gaza-born Imad al Alami, 60, will replace Ismail Haniyeh coordinating the group’s ‘political’ activities in Gaza, in a move that apparently paves the way for Haniyeh to replace Khaled Mashaal as the terrorist organization’s top political leader in Qatar.
Alami has lived in both Tehran and Damascus, and was the last Hamas leader to leave Syria amid a downturn in relations between the group and Syrian President Bashar al-Assad soured at the beginning of the civil conflict there.
Alami is a low-key figure who generally avoids the media spotlight. He has only attended one public event over recent months, does not take part in press conferences, does not use Facebook or Twitter, and does not visit mourners tents as other Hamas officials do.
Haniyeh left the Gaza Strip in 2014 with Alami named as a temporary replacement. Haniyeh and Mashaal recently met with Palestinian Authority chairman Mahmoud Abbas in Doha in a bid to end years of hostility between the rival Hamas and Fatah movements.
Haniyeh’s participation in that meeting was taken as a further sign that he will replace Mashaal when official Hamas leadership elections take place in the coming months.
Hamas entered a bitter conflict with Abbas’s Fatah movement in 2007, when it brutally ousted the Fatah from the Gaza Strip after the latter lost the National Palestinian Authority elections.
The two movements now each control part of the Palestinian Authority territories, with Hamas in charge in Gaza and Fatah in Judea and Samaria.
Despite repeated reconciliation attempts, Hamas and Fatah have failed to bridge their differences and form a unified administration for the Palestinian Authority territories.