New Hamas chief makes 1st public appearance in native Gaza


GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip (AP) — The new Hamas leader has made his first public appearance, visiting a solidarity tent for hunger-striking Palestinian prisoners held by Israel.

Ismail Haniyeh stopped by the tent Monday, two days after Hamas announced that the former Gaza prime minister replaced Qatar-based Khaled Mashaal in the Islamic militant group’s top position.

Haniyeh’s rise was the latest sign of a power shift in Hamas from the diaspora to Gaza, which has been under Hamas rule since a 2007 takeover.

This shift comes at a time of growing financial pressure on Gaza by Hamas’ main rival, Western-backed Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, who is trying to force the group to cede ground.

Haniyeh also faces movement restrictions that could limit his leadership role; an Israeli-Egyptian border blockade has largely sealed Gaza since 2007.