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April 5, 2018 11:34 am

Hamas Leadership Mired in Infighting as Gaza-Israel Tension Mounts

avatar by Israel Hayom / JNS.org

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Yahya Sinwar (in center, with binoculars), the political chief in Gaza for the Palestinian terrorist organization Hamas. Photo: Abed Rahim Khatib / Flash90.

JNS.org – Senior Palestinian sources in the Gaza Strip and Ramallah said Tuesday that Hamas is plagued with infighting, which in turn could affect its decision-making process and policies, especially with respect to its conflict with Israel.

According to senior Hamas officials, the bickering within the group began several months ago, with the resignation of Hamas Interior Minister Fathi Hamad, who oversaw the security and intelligence apparatuses in Gaza.

Hamad, a prominent member of the terrorist group that rules the coastal enclave, was for years considered a potential successor to Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh, and was greatly offended when the latter named Izzedine al-Qassam strongman Yahya Sinwar as the military leader in the Strip in February 2017.

Sinwar spared no effort to oust Hamad from his position of power, prompting him to leave Hamas and announce plans to found a rival organization, which has yet to be named.

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Hamad has reportedly been able to convince dozens of his supporters in Hamas to join his organization, and several Hamas officials said the bad blood between Hamad and Sinwar “runs deep.”

Hamad was named a possible suspect in the failed assassination attempt of Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah in Gaza City last month, and Hamas officials said the plot may have had intelligence and logistical support from individuals in Hamas’ intelligence services, loyal to the former interior minister.

He is also suspected of attempts on the lives of several other Hamas officials in Gaza, including Gen. Tawfiq Abu Naim, Hamas’ intelligence chief, who was wounded in a shooting attack in October.

Ramallah sources told Israel Hayom that dozens of Hamas security officers, including several high-ranking officials, have been arrested over the past few weeks on suspicion of aiding Hamad.

“The internal strife within Hamas is affecting the organization’s leadership, its policies and decision-making process,” a senior Hamas official told Israel Hayom. “The impact is felt on every level — the assassinations in Gaza, the internal Palestinian reconciliation and the fight against Israel — everywhere.”

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