The head of Hamas political bureau, Ismail Haniyeh, who lives in self-imposed exile between Qatar and Türkiye, is described by observers as a quiet man with a sober and open speech to various factions, even those competing with his movement.
Haniyeh who owns properties outside Gaza, is also considered to have political ambitions in the Palestinian territories raise more than one question.
In 2018, the United States included him on the list of terrorists, and his name appeared on the international media scene again after the Hamas attack on Israel, which resulted in hundreds of deaths, and Israel responded with bloody raids that killed more than 3,700 people.
Ismail Haniyeh (60) was elected head of the political bureau of the Hamas movement in 2017, succeeding Khaled Mishaal, but his name and nickname (Abu al Abd) had been known to the world since 2006 when he assumed the presidency of the government in the Palestinian Authority, after Hamas’ surprising victory in the parliamentary elections.
However, the understanding with the Fatah movement, led by Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, didn’t last long, so Hamas took control of the Gaza Strip by force the following year.
Haniyeh, who lives in self-imposed exile between Qatar and Türkiye, which support his movement, has long called for combining armed resistance with political struggle within Hamas, which the United States, the European Union, and Israel classify as a terrorist organization.
Haniyeh also maintains good relations with the leaders of various Palestinian factions, even those competing with his movement.
Israel arrested him several times, most notably in 1989, and deported him with a number of Hamas leaders to southern Lebanon in 1992.
Ismail Abdel Salam Ahmed Haniyeh was born on January 23, 1962 in Gaza, in the Beach refugee camp, where his family took refuge from the village of al Joura in Ashkelon in 1948.
He received his primary and preparatory education in the schools of the United Nations Relief Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA), which he graduated from High school.
Later he went to Al Azhar Institute, and from there he joined the Islamic University of Gaza in 1987, from which he graduated with a degree in Arabic literature.
Haniyeh worked at the Islamic University of Gaza, and became dean in 1992.
In 1997, he was the office director of Sheikh Ahmed Yassin (Hamas Founder) after Israel released him in the deal that followed the failed Mossad operation to assassinate the head of the Hamas political bureau, Khaled Mishaal, in Jordan, when Israel released Sheikh Yassin in exchange for the Mossad agent who was arrested in the Jordanian capital, Amman.
According to the New York Times, Ismail Haniyeh is a father of 13 children.
The US Embassy in Israel said that Ismail Haniyeh, head of the political bureau of Hamas, which was designated in 1997 as a foreign terrorist organization and in 2001 as a global terrorist organization, has close ties to the military wing of the movement and was an advocate of armed struggle, including against civilians.
He was involved in attacks against Israeli citizens, as Hamas was responsible for the deaths of an estimated 17 Americans in “terrorist attacks”.
The Times newspaper estimates the wealth of Haniyeh, at about four billion dollars.
The Times newspaper, which interviewed Haniyeh a year ago, said that Iran funds the leaders of the Palestinian movement with $100 million annually.
The Times also indicated that Palestinian opinion polls expected Haniyeh to be the most likely candidate to assume the presidency of the Palestinian Authority, succeeding Mahmoud Abbas.
According to a poll conducted by the Palestinian Center for Policy and Research in September, which stated that if new elections were held, Haniyeh would receive 58% of the votes, compared to only 37% in favor of Abbas.
Immediately after Hamas launched Operation al Aqsa Flood on Saturday, October 7, the sudden and bloodiest attack since the establishment of the State of Israel, Haniyeh appeared in a video broadcast by the media, beaming with the movement’s leaders in his office in Doha, while he was following a report on one of the Arab channels by fighters of al Qassam Brigades, the military wing of Hamas movement, seizes Israeli military vehicles, before leading a prayer “to thank God for this victory”.
Haniyeh later said, “We’re on the verge of a great victory… Enough is enough, and the cycle of uprisings and revolutions must be completed with the liberation battle”.
Haniyeh has repeatedly highlighted the threats facing al Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem, the continued Israeli siege on Gaza, and Israeli normalization with countries in the region.
After Israel launched strikes on the Gaza Strip and called on its residents to evacuate the northern area and flee south, Haniyeh said that Israel’s aggression against Gaza amounts to “war crimes,” calling for pressure on the Israeli authorities to immediately stop these crimes and respect the obligations of international humanitarian law.
He also stressed that there is no immigration from the Gaza Strip,” adding, “The people of Gaza are rooted in their land… They won’t leave Gaza… They won’t immigrate, no matter what you murderers and criminals do”.
In a separate development, Hamas said that Israeli forces targeted a house for the Haniyeh family in Gaza, which belongs to his brother, according to what a security source in Gaza told the French news agency.
After the bloody bombing of the Baptist Hospital in Gaza, which led to the death of more than 500 people, Haniyeh said that the United States bears responsibility for the attack, considering that Washington provided cover for the Israeli attack.
He added, “the hospital massacre confirms the Zionist enemy’s brutality,” and confirms the extent of the resounding defeat he suffered, adding that this attack will mark a turning point in the conflict.
It should be noted that the political leadership of Hamas is based on two figures, Ismail Haniyeh from abroad, and Yahya Sinwar, his counterpart in Gaza, who is seen as a symbol of the Hardhead wing of the movement.
As for al Qassam Brigades, the military wing of Hamas movement, it’s led by Muhammad al Deif, a figure who rarely appears in public, and who repeatedly survived Israeli attempts to assassinate him.