Ismail Haniyeh (Arabic: إسماعيل هنية, Ismaʻīl Haniyya; sometimes transliterated as Ismail Haniya, Ismail Haniyah) ( Arabic pronunciation (help·info)); (born January 29, 1963) is a senior political leader of Hamas and one of two disputed Prime Ministers of the Palestinian National Authority, the matter being under political and legal dispute. He became Prime Minister after the legislative elections of 2006 which Hamas won. President Mahmoud Abbas dismissed Haniyeh from office on 14 June 2007 at the height of the Fatah-Hamas conflict, but Haniyeh did not acknowledge the decree and continues to exercise prime ministerial authority in the Gaza Strip. The Palestinian Legislative Council also continues to recognise his authority.
Haniyeh was born in the Al-Shati refugee camp in the Gaza Strip. His parents became refugees after they fled their homes in Majdal (currently Ashkelon, Israel) during the 1948 Arab-Israeli War. In 1987, he graduated from the Islamic University of Gaza with a degree in Arabic literature. In 1989, he was imprisoned for three years by Israeli authorities for participation in the First Intifada and membership with Hamas. Following his release in 1992, he was exiled to Lebanon with Ahmed Yassin, Abdel-Aziz al-Rantissi and other senior Hamas politicians. A year later, he returned to Gaza and was appointed as Dean of the Islamic University.
After Ahmed Yassin, Hamas' spiritual leader, was released from prison in 1997, Haniyeh was appointed to head his office. He was targeted by the Israel Defense Forces for his alleged involvement in attacks against Israeli citizens. Following a suicide bombing in Jerusalem in 2003, he was slightly injured on his hand by an Israeli Air Force bomb attack attempting to eliminate the Hamas leadership. His position within Hamas continued to strengthen during the Second Intifada due to his relationship with Yassin, and because of the assassinations of much of the Hamas leadership by the Israeli security forces. In December 2005, Haniyeh was elected to head the Hamas list, which won the Legislative Council elections the following month.