The new leader of Hamas in Gaza, Yahya Sinwar, made his first public appearance since his election for the inauguration of a mosque on Friday, winning praise from his predecessor.
His Islamist movement which has run the Gaza Strip for the past decade invited the media to attend the opening of the Gaza City mosque without announcing Sinwar’s participation.
Sinwar himself made no statement at the event, but his predecessor Ismail Haniya paid tribute to the former prisoner who spent 25 years “in the jails of the (Israeli) occupation”.
“This is a source of pride for Hamas and for its prisoners,” Haniya told the crowd.
“The Zionist media are trying to… make a distinction between the military and political figures (in Hamas), but we tell them we are all fighters and that in the face of the occupation we are all military,” the former premier said.
Haniya is considered a supporter of a relatively moderate element in Hamas, while Sinwar is a top commander in its armed wing and strong advocate of armed struggle against Israel.
The former premier is seen by many observers as the most likely successor to Hamas’s overall leader Khaled Meshaal, who currently lives in exile.
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