Daniel Braun
's TOI Blog

Who is who in Hamas? pt.3

The leaders outside of Gaza

1. Saleh el-Arouri

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Born: 1966, Aroura, West Bank

Death: January 2nd, 2024, Dahiyah, Beirut, Lebanon

Based in: Lebanon

Former position: Leader of Hamas in the West Bank

Saleh el-Arouri was born in 1966 in the West Bank village of Aroura near Ramallah. He grew up in the West Bank and studied in local schools. In 1985 he joined the Muslim Brotherhood and became the leader of the Islamic Student Action in the University of Hebron, where he later got a Bachelor’s degree in Sharia studies.

His activism led him to different administrative detentions between 1985-1992. He joined Hamas when it was established in 1987. In the early 90’s he led the creation of the Al-Qassam brigades in the West Bank. This led to his arrest by Israel, and he was sentenced to 15 years in prison. He was released in 2007 but got rearrested just three months later.

He was finally released in 2010 thanks to a Supreme Court ruling, that allowed him to leave jail, but he was exiled from the West Bank and deported to Syria. El-Arouri stayed for 3 years in Syria, and then for a period he moved between countries, mainly Turkey and Lebanon until he finally established in Lebanon.

After his release in 2010, he became a member of Hamas’ Political Bureau. One year later he was one of Hamas’ negotiators for Gilad Shalit’s release. He took upon himself the task of keeping relations with Iran, Hezbollah, and the PIJ. In October 2017 he led a delegation to Iran and in November of that same year, he had a public meeting with Hezbollah’s leader, Hassan Nasrallah.

El-Arouri also tried on different occasions to reestablish ties between Hamas and Fatah, and eventually reconcile between the factions. In 2020 he managed to make a deal with Jibril Rajoub, Fatah’s secretary general that would lead to general parliamentary and presidential elections in the Palestinian Authority, but they were later cancelled by Abu Mazen.

In 2021 he was elected as deputy chief of Hamas’ Political Bureau. That same year he was designated leader of Hamas in the West Bank. He was in charge of transferring money from Iran into the West Bank. He is also accused of being behind many terrorist attacks throughout the West Bank and inside Israel.

There are several rumors that El-Arouri had a tough relationship with Sinwar, and was therefore left out of the October 7th attack. Anyway, after the attack happened, he led Hamas’ efforts against Israel in the West Bank and Lebanon. On January 2nd, 2024 he was assassinated near Beirut by a drone, allegedly an Israeli one. His current de facto replacement has been Zaher Jabarin.

2. Musa Abu Marzouk

Retrieved from:

Born: 1951, Rafah, Gaza Strip

Current position: Member of Hamas’ Political Bureau, deputy head of the external Political Bureau

Based in: Unclear, probably Doha, Qatar

Musa Abu Marzouk was born in Rafah, southern Gaza Strip in 1951. After he finished his basic studies, he moved to Cairo, Egypt in 1977. He studied engineering at the Ain Shams University. He also lived some time in the United Arab Emirates where he established a Muslim Brotherhood cell.

After he got his degree, Marzouk moved to the United States in the late 80’s, to pursue a PhD. During his time in America, he established an extensive financial network to support Hamas from abroad. He was accused by the US of transferring money illegally to American companies and Islamist funds in America, the most important ones being the Holy Land Foundation and INFOCOM.

In 1992 he left the US and moved to Jordan. He is suspected of leading and coordinating Hamas’ attacks against Israel from that country. In 1995 he was expelled from Jordan and went back to America, where he was arrested by the FBI just at the moment he arrived. He was released in 1997 and returned to Jordan, but got expelled again in 1999 and deported to Syria, where he stayed until 2012.

He served for many years as the deputy to Khaled Mashaal, the head of Hamas’ Political Bureau until 2017. Marzouk was expected to replace Mashaal in 2017, but in the end, Haniyeh was elected. He remained as another member of Hamas’ Political Bureau and the deputy to Hamas’ external Political Bureau.

Ever since he left Syria, he has been reported to live in different places, mainly in Gaza, Turkey, Egypt, and Qatar.  There was recently a report by the “Al-monitor” news outlet that Marzouk stated that Hamas should recognize Israel to unify with the PLO factions, but it is reported that he retracted.

3. Khaled Mashaal

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Born: 1956, Silwad, West Bank, Jordan

Current position: Head of Hamas’ external Political Bureau and member of Hamas’ Political Bureau

Based in: Doha, Qatar

Khaled Mashaal was born in 1965 in Silwad in the West Bank, while it was still in Jordanian hands. In 1967, during the 6-day war, he fled with his family and was established in Kuwait, where his father had already been living for a while as an agricultural worker and a preacher. He grew up in a very religious environment.

When Mashaal was 15, he joined the Palestinian branch of the Muslim Brotherhood in Kuwait. In 1974 he started studying physics at the Kuwait University and participated there in Palestinian activism. Inside the Palestinian Student Association, there was a clash between nationalists and Islamists, so it split into two. After he graduated he taught physics at the university and was still an activist.

In 1984 he quit teaching to devote his time completely to his activism. He started organizing a network of Islamic social services in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank. He also started developing the military capabilities of Islamists in these territories.

After the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait in 1990, Mashaal moved to Jordan. Already a member of Hamas, he helped establish the exile’s Political Bureau in 1992 and became a member of it. In 1996 he was elected as leader of the Bureau.

In 1997, the Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, authorized an attempt to assassinate him in Amman. Mashaal was approached by undercover Israeli agents, who secretly sprayed him with slow-acting poison. One of Mashaal’s bodyguards noticed this, and they detained two Israeli agents. After this, King Hussein of Jordan pressured Netanyahu to provide the antidote, since he thought this was undermining the recent Peace treaty between the countries.

In 1999, Jordan decided to expel Hamas from its territory, and the external Political Bureau was ousted. Mashaal was arrested for a few months during this period. 2 years later, in 2001, the Political Bureau found its new base in Damascus.

Hamas’ founder and leader, Sheikh Ahmed Yassin was assassinated in 2004, and his successor, Abd Al-Aziz Al-Rantissi, was killed too some months later. After this, Mashaal was named Hamas’ Political Bureau leader.

In 2012, during the Syrian Civil War, the Political Bureau had to be relocated again. This time to Qatar. Mashaal officially supported the opposition in Syria against Al-Assad. He visited Gaza for the first time that same year when Mohammed Morsi opened Egypt’s border.

In 2017 he stepped down as the head of the Political Bureau and was replaced by Haniyeh. He is currently the head of the external Political Bureau and a member of the general Bureau.


About the Author
Hi! This is Daniel Braun, a young Jew and proud zionist from Mexico learning about his background and other stuff, and trying to make an impact in this world. I hope you enjoy my ideas!