Gaza: Islamic militant group Hamas confirms Ismail Haniyeh as new top leader

Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhoum confirmed on Saturday that Haniya had been selected as the politburo chief.

Gaza-based resistance group Hamas will hold elections on Saturday to elect a new political bureau chief to replace Khaled Meshaal, according to a Hamas source.

The 54-year-old served as Palestinian prime minister after Hamas' victory in the 2006 polls and continued to carry out official responsibilities despite being sacked by Palestinian president and Fatah leader Mahmoud Abbas.

"Electing Haniya and holding the well-organised internal elections on time were made in spite of the situation that Hamas is passing through", said al-Qanoua, adding "this reflects how powerful Hamas movement is".

It also says Hamas's struggle is not with Jews but with "occupying Zionist aggressors".

Hamas is trying to rebrand itself as an Islamic national liberation movement, rather than a branch of the pan-Arab Muslim Brotherhood, which has been outlawed by Egypt.

Hamas has eased its stance on the Jewish state after having called for decades for its destruction, as the movement seeks to improve its global standing.

The document notably accepts the idea of a Palestinian state in territories occupied by Israel in the Six-Day War of 1967.

He is now expected to leave the Gaza Strip and reside overseas.

The Rafah border crossing is Gaza's only access point to the outside world not controlled by Israel.

The Gaza border authority said on Saturday that "more than 20,000 Palestinian citizens, who are considered humanitarian cases, are stuck in Gaza and desperately need to travel abroad" for treatment.

  • Leroy Wright