To the people of the Palestinian Shati refugee camp, Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh is still just "Abul Abed," the neighbor who shares electricity from his generator during power cuts and attends their weddings and funerals.They now have the Civil War problem relatively under control.
Haniyeh's down-home style - he walked home through Shati's alleys after Friday prayers - has made him one of the most popular Palestinian politicians.
Haniyeh has a cordial relationship with Fatah leaders.
His new government is as unlikely to recognize the Zionist regime as the outgoing one.What a guy!
For many Palestinians, Haniyeh's most attractive quality is his modest lifestyle.
The 45-year-old kept his two-story home in the Shati refugee camp even after being appointed Prime Minister following Hamas' victory in January 2006 parliament elections.
However, Haniyeh's neighbors say he's a genuinely niceman. "People like him. He has no enemies," said Hassan Abu Ali, 55, who has known Haniyeh since childhood.
Residents said Haniyeh shares electricity from his generator during frequent outages, attends social events in the camp and once spent an hour digging dirt at a neighbor's construction site.
Haniyeh's home is in an alley off Shati's main beachside road. Two sandbag-fortified guard posts are the only sign a senior official lives there.
On Friday, Haniyeh, escorted by assault rifle-toting bodyguards in sports utility vehicles, drove in a silver Mercedes from his house to the Baghdad mosque, a few hundred yards (meters) away.
Haniyeh halted at one point to greet a child in a wheelchair and, later, to gaze at the Mediterranean.
Once home, he invited cameramen and photographers into the walled courtyard, had aides distribute soft drinks and offered to pose for photos with journalists.Update: This story is evidently adapted from an AP story! (h/t: LGF)
Asked why he remained in Shati after becoming Prime Minister, he said: "I was born here, I was raised here, I walked the streets here. I must stay with my people."
In a recent poll, Haniyeh and President Mahmoud Abbas of Fatah scored highest when respondents were asked to rank the Palestinians most trusted politician, with Haniyeh getting 22 percent to 19 percent for Abbas.
Jailed Fatah leader Marwan Barghouti got 16 percent in the February survey among 806 Palestinians, conducted by the independent polling company neareast consulting. It had a margin of error of three percentage points.
Haniyeh, a father of 13, was born in Shati in 1962. He served as student council leader at Gaza city's Islamic university, and in 1992 was deported by the Zionist regime to southern Lebanon for a year, along with hundreds of other Islamic activists.
After his return, he took a job in the dean's office of the Islamic university and for more than five years served as personal assistant to the Hamas founder, Sheik Ahmed Yassin.
After the assassination of Yassin and other leading Hamas figures by the Zionist regime, Haniyeh moved up in Hamas.
After the Islamic Resistance Movement received confidence of people in elections, Haniyeh was appointed Prime Minister.