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Hamas: Electing Sinwar Will Not Change our Policies | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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Hamas leader Yehia Sinwar attends a rally in Khan Younis in the southern Gaza Strip January 7, 2016. (photo credit:REUTERS)

Ramallah – Soon after Hamas elected Yahya Sinwar as its leader in the Gaza Strip, Israeli media portrayed him as the “Sheikh of murders” promoting for prominent war.

But Hamas responded to these allegations and assured that the movement’s policy will not change drastically after Sinwar came to power.

Member of new Hamas leadership in Gaza Salah Bardawil said that the election of Sinwar was the result of a calm, complex, and a democratic electoral process, and the will and awareness of the tens of thousands of the movement’s members.

Speaking to Hamas-run channel, al-Aqsa, Bardawil confirmed that Hamas does not change with the change of its leader. “It is primarily an institutional movement and decisions are taken in Shura Council through a very complex process,” he added.

He also said that it’s hard for the leader to be the decision-maker, stating that unlike other movements, Hamas is not a dictatorship.

He stated that fears or concerns promoted by Zionist media after the election of Sinwar do not change the fact that Hamas does not let go of its people’s principles and objectives.

He noted that focusing on individuals rather on the movement is an attempt to discredit Hamas and its political program.

Bardawil described Yahya Sinwar, who was a senior commander of the Ezzedine Qassam Brigades, as someone who believes in national unity and in the relations with all factions.

“He is a man of reconciliation – an Arabian man who has special respect for Egypt,” Bardawil said.

He also believes that this will have significant implications and people will see that Sinwar deserves to be the leader of Hamas.

Vice President of Hamas Political Bureau Moussa Abu Marzouk had previously said that the electoral process and its results will not radically change Hamas’ policies.

Hamas tried to assure its followers and the public amid reports about Sinwar being a hardliner and a man willing to use extreme force when needed.

Hamas has elected Yahya Sinwar earlier as its next leader in the Gaza Strip. Sinwar is set to replace Ismail Haniye and Khaled Meshaal.

In 1989, Israel sentenced Sinwar to four life terms. He served 22 years before Israel freed him in 2011 during a swap of 1,047 Palestinian prisoners for Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit, who was abducted by Gaza fighters in a cross-border raid in 2006.

In 2015, U.S. enlisted Sinwar on its terrorist list along with Qassam Brigades’ general leader Mohammed Dayef and Fathi Hamad.

Israeli media outlets began campaigning against Sinwar describing him as the most radical leader. Several reports spoke of every aspect of his life including his fluency in Hebrew language. They stated how, while in prison, Sinwar went under operation where Jewish doctors saved his life.

Yuval Steinitz, member of the inner Security Cabinet by Prime Minister Netanyahu, confirmed Israeli fears during his visit to Washington when he said that Sinwar will drive the region into a war, and that it’s “a matter of time” before that happens.

Steinitz, who is also Minister of National Infrastructure, Energy and Water Resources, described Sinwar as dangerous, “impulsive” and “cruel.” He added that the stronger his position was, the more dangerous he became.

The minister added that Sinwar will raise the chances of another conflict with the blockaded coastal enclave.

Knesset’s Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee Chairman MK Avi Dichter said Sinwar was “an arch-terrorist.”