Reshuffle in Hamas strengthens Gaza

GAZA, May 2 (UPI) -- Internal strife within Hamas has strengthened the organization in Gaza and weakened the leaders who were forced to leave Syria, officials said.

Khaled Masha'al, head of the organization's political bureau who left Damascus along with other senior officials due to the unrest in Syria, is likely to be stripped of certain powers including control of the budget and control of the organization's military wing, which will be transferred to Hamas leaders in Gaza, Haaretz said Wednesday.


Until now Masha'al was in control of Hamas's purse string and the organization's Gaza based military wing Izeddin al-Qassam Brigades, the newspaper said. The scattering of the Damascus leadership to other countries in the Arab world triggered the changes within the organization and a final vote on the matter is expected to take place later this month, Haaretz said. Masha'al is expected to retain his post as head of the political bureau but will lose some of his powers, the paper said.

Fleeing the unrest in Syria, Masha'al moved to Qatar, his deputy and rival Moussa Abu Marzouk moved to Cairo, and other Hamas officials moved to Gaza, Khartoum, Istanbul and Doha, the paper said.

Hamas in the Gaza Strip has strengthened in recent months and has become the organization's main decision making center. Its main source of revenue is from the smuggling tunnels under the border with Egypt, the paper said.

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