New leaders for military forces in Gaza

July 21, 2006 at 10:02 AM
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JABALIYA, Gaza, July 21 (UPI) -- Analysts in Israel and the Gaza Strip say the governing leaders of Hamas are no longer controlling their military forces in the West Bank and Gaza.

They say members of the Qassam Brigades actually surprised the Hamas-led government last month when they killed two Israeli soldiers and captured another, setting off the current crisis, The New York Times reports.

According to a Qassam field commander in Jabaliya, Hamas members who joined the government lost their positions in the group.

"New leaders were named in the movement, and they are more senior than the government leaders," field commander Abu Muhammad told the Times Thursday, adding that included the Palestinian prime minister.

A former director of Israel's national security council concurred about the leadership changes.

"It has become apparent that the political leadership of Hamas is much less influential than Khaled Meshal and leaders of the military wing," Giora Eiland, a retired general, said in the Times' report.

Meshal, chairman of Hamas' political bureau, lives in exile in Syria.

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