Khalil al-Hayya is a senior Hamas politician who was elected deputy leader of the group’s Gaza politburo in internal elections in February 2017. In those elections, Hamas leadership elected Yahya Sinwar as overall political chief in the Gaza Strip, replacing Ismail Haniyeh.“Yehya al-Sinwar elected head of Hamas political bureau in Gaza, Khalil al-Hayya his deputy,” Middle East Observer, February 13, 2017, https://www.middleeastobserver.org/2017/02/13/31229yehya-al-sinwar-elected-head-of-hamas-political-bureau-in-gaza-khalil-al-hayya-his-deputy/. Before Hayya assumed the position of deputy leader, he served as head of Hamas’s parliamentary bloc in the Palestinian Legislative Council.Adnan Abu Amer, “Exclusive: Hamas Official Discusses Decline of Iranian Support,” Al-Monitor, June 23, 2013, http://www.al-monitor.com/pulse/tr/originals/2013/06/hamas-interview-hayya-gaza-iran-hezbollah-support.html. In 2021, Hayya was re-elected as deputy chief of Gaza.“Mapping Palestinian Politics – Khalil al-Hayya,” European Council on Foreign Relations, accessed August 6, 2021, https://ecfr.eu/special/mapping_palestinian_politics/khalil_al_hayya/; Reuters and Jerusalem Post staff, “Haniyeh reelected to lead Hamas in internal elections – report,” Jerusalem Post, August 1, 2021, https://www.jpost.com/breaking-news/haniyeh-reelected-to-lead-hamas-in-internal-elections-report-675521.
Hayya has served as a senior figure in Hamas since at least 2006. That year—amid tension between Hamas and the West Bank-based Fatah—Hayya told a rally in Gaza City that Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas was “… launching [a war], first against God, and then against Hamas.”“Hamas and Fatah trade fire in power struggle,” Guardian, December 15, 2006, https://www.theguardian.com/world/2006/dec/15/israel1. In 2007, Hayya lost seven members of his family in an Israeli assassination.Adnan Abu Amer, “Exclusive: Hamas Official Discusses Decline of Iranian Support,” Al-Monitor, June 23, 2013, http://www.al-monitor.com/pulse/tr/originals/2013/06/hamas-interview-hayya-gaza-iran-hezbollah-support.html.
Hayya’s views on Iran—specifically regarding to its funding of Hamas—have shifted over time. In a 2010 interview, Hayya told the website of Hamas’s military wing—the Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades—that “Iran supports [Hamas] financially, politically and morally,” without Hamas having to pay a “political price.”“An exclusive interview with Hamas leader Dr. Khalil Al Hayya,” Al-Qassam, January 22, 2010, http://www.qassam.ps/interview-2305-An_exclusive_interview_with_Hamas_leader_Dr_Khalil_Al_Hayya.html. In a 2013 interview with Al-Monitor, however, Hayya indicated that Iran’s funding of Hamas had declined because it had indeed come with a “political price,” whereas “Qatar, for example, plays a significant role in supporting the Palestinian cause…[and] this support does not come with any political price.” Hayya noted at the time that “[Hamas was] trying to find new alternatives that would compensate” for a shortage of funds.Adnan Abu Amer, “Exclusive: Hamas Official Discusses Decline of Iranian Support,” Al-Monitor, June 23, 2013, http://www.al-monitor.com/pulse/tr/originals/2013/06/hamas-interview-hayya-gaza-iran-hezbollah-support.html.
In December 2016, Hayya attended a celebration commemorating the 29th anniversary of Hamas’s founding. During the event, he ceremoniously handed his grandchildren the sword of Hamas founder Ahmed Yassin, saying it was “the sword of da’wa, of liberation, and of victory,” and that it should be “[passed] down to the next generation of men, women, boys, and girls.”“Hamas MP Khalil Al-Hayya Hands His Grandchildren Ahmed Yassin's 'Sword of Liberation' in Ceremony Marking Organization's 29th Anniversary,” MMEMRI, December 14, 2016, https://www.memri.org/tv/hamas-mp-khalil-al-hayya-hands-his-grandchildren-ahmed-yassins-sword-liberation-ceremony-marking/transcript.
In February 2020, Hayya stated that Hamas and other Palestinian factions are working to undermine U.S. President Donald Trump’s proposed Israeli-Palestinian peace plan. The plan, unveiled in late January, maintained Jerusalem as Israel’s “undivided capital,” but provided for part of East Jerusalem to be the capital of a future Palestinian state. It also doubled Palestine’s territory but allowed the Israelis to maintain their West Bank settlements.“Trump Reveals Israeli-Palestinian Peace Plan,” Deutsche Welle, January 28, 2020, https://www.dw.com/en/trump-reveals-israeli-palestinian-peace-plan/a-52179629. Hayya also stated that “the deal is set to fail as long as it lacks Palestinian support.”“Hamas Decides Against Media War with Fatah,” Middle East Monitor, February 19, 2020, https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/20200219-hamas-decides-against-media-war-with-fatah/.
On September 1, 2020, Hayya threatened Israel with more violence on the southern border if Israel does not uphold its end of a 2018 ceasefire bargain within two months. The 2018 agreement stipulated that Israel was to allow infrastructure projects and foreign aid into the Gaza Strip. Hayya blamed Israel’s failure to uphold the 2018 agreement as the reason for the August hostilities. Throughout August, Gaza-based militants launched rockets and incendiary balloons into Israel. Israel responded by conducting airstrikes against Hamas targets and the closure of the Kerem Shalom crossing into Gaza to construction materials and fuel. A Qatari-brokered ceasefire ended the violence, with Israel tacitly consenting to the agreement by removing the restrictions that they imposed on Gaza during August’s hostilities.Aaron Boxerman, “Hamas Deputy: We’ll Give Israel Two Months to Implement Ceasefire,” Times of Israel, September 1, 2020, https://www.timesofisrael.com/hamas-deputy-well-give-israel-two-months-to-implement-ceasefire/.
In January 2021, Abbas announced the first Palestinian legislative elections since 2006 would take place later in the year. The Palestinian Authority also announced plans to hold presidential elections in the summer.Daoud Kuttab, “Agreement between Fatah and Hamas paves way for Palestine coalition,” Arab News, January 22, 2021, https://www.arabnews.com/node/1796886/middle-east. Hayya was named to the top of Hamas’s list of legislative candidates.Khaled Abu Toameh, “Hamas presents list of candidates for parliamentary election,” Jerusalem Post, March 29, 2021, https://www.jpost.com/middle-east/hamas-presents-list-of-candidates-for-parliamentary-election-663540. Abbas indefinitely postponed the elections on April 29, citing Israel’s refusal to allow Palestinians in east Jerusalem to vote as the reason for the postponement. Local analysts suspected the delay was because Abbas feared a Hamas political victory.Adnan Abu Amer, “Hamas rallies opposition to Abbas after elections pushed back,” Al-Monitor, April 29, 2021, https://www.al-monitor.com/originals/2021/05/hamas-rallies-opposition-abbas-after-elections-pushed-back; “Fatah intensifies efforts to postpone elections fearing a Hamas win,” Middle East Monitor, April 20, 2021, https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/20210420-fatah-intensifies-efforts-to-postpone-elections-fearing-a-hamas-win/; “Hamas: Delaying election will affect future of Palestine reconciliation,” April 28, 2021, https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/20210428-hamas-delaying-election-will-affect-future-of-palestine-reconciliation/.
In 2021, Hamas held secretive internal elections to select leaders in its political bureau.Reuters and Jerusalem Post staff, “Haniyeh reelected to lead Hamas in internal elections – report,” Jerusalem Post, August 1, 2021, https://www.jpost.com/breaking-news/haniyeh-reelected-to-lead-hamas-in-internal-elections-report-675521. Hayya was re-elected as Hamas’s deputy leader of Gaza for another four-year term.“Mapping Palestinian Politics – Khalil al-Hayya,” European Council on Foreign Relations, accessed August 6, 2021, https://ecfr.eu/special/mapping_palestinian_politics/khalil_al_hayya/; Reuters and Jerusalem Post staff, “Haniyeh reelected to lead Hamas in internal elections – report,” Jerusalem Post, August 1, 2021, https://www.jpost.com/breaking-news/haniyeh-reelected-to-lead-hamas-in-internal-elections-report-675521. It is unclear when exactly Hayya’s election took place. Hamas began announcing its election results that March.Nidal Al-mughrabi, “Sinwar re-elected as Hamas chief in Gaza,” Reuters, March 10, 2021, https://www.reuters.com/world/sinwar-re-elected-hamas-chief-gaza-2021-03-10/.
- Extremist entity
- Type(s) of Organization:
- Political, religious, social service provider, terrorist, violent
- Ideologies and Affiliations:
- Islamist, jihadist, Muslim Brotherhood-affiliated group, pan-Islamist, Qutbist, Sunni
- Deputy leader of Gazan politburo
Hamas is a U.S.-designated terrorist organization which has killed hundreds of Israeli citizens, as well as Americans, in suicide bombings and other terrorist attacks. Hamas has governed the Gaza Strip since it violently expelled the Palestinian Authority in 2007.