Hamas’s leader Khaled Mashal stated this week that the terror group has increased its military strength in the Gaza Strip since the Operation Protective Edge conflict in 2014, and confirmed that he would be standing down from his post.
Speaking at a seminar in Qatar, Mashal said that he would not be seeking re-election, stating: “Khaled Mashal will be a former chief of the Hamas politburo next year”.
He said that Hamas’s military strength is “several times more” than its strength in 2014: What we have today in terms of resistance weapons is several times more than what we had during easier times and what we had two years ago, before Operation Protective Edge”.
It is thought that Hamas’s leader in Gaza, Ismail Haniyeh, Deputy Politburo Chief Mousa Abu Marzouk and Politburo member Imad al-Alami are the leading candidates to replace Mashal in an internal election next year.
Since the 2014 conflict, Hamas is reported to have restored its arsenal of short-range rockets and has been rebuilding its tunnel network. Earlier this year, two rebuilt attack tunnels extending into Israeli territory were uncovered by Israeli forces.