Extremist killer elected Hamas leader

Yahya Sanwar. Photo: AP Photo/Adel Hana

FEARS of a new confrontation between Gaza’s rulers and Israel are rising, after Hamas has chosen one of its most extreme figures to lead the movement.

Yahya Sanwar, who was in an Israeli prison until he was freed in Jerusalem’s 2011 deal to free Gilad Shalit, was just elected to replace Ismail Haniyeh as head of Hamas in Gaza.

He is seen as a zealot even within Hamas, and was in prison for murdering fellow Palestinians – those who he believed had collaborated with Israel. Sanwar is seen as a figure who will push militants towards more combative stances, and is thought to be especially enthusiastic about kidnapping Israelis.

He takes control just as Hamas’s propaganda machine has intensified its operations, with a new animated music video calling for violence against Israeli targets. “I will surprise you until you beg to live,” it says. “I will eat you – the tastiest way is without salt. Yes, Zionist, you, you, you.” It then shows a map of Israel with Israeli flags in various locations exploding and then being replaced by Palestinian flags.

In other terror-related news, five Israelis were recovering this week after a shooting and stabbing attack last Thursday. A Palestinian man, identified as Sadeq Nasser Abu Mazen in Palestinian media, opened fire at a market in Petach Tikva near Tel Aviv. Later in the attack, he stabbed a victim with a screwdriver.

NATHAN JEFFAY