Hamas senior official Imad al-Alami is in critical condition after suffering a gunshot wound to the head. The secretive official, who has been designated a terrorist by the U.S., reportedly shot himself by accident.
On Jan. 9, Hamas spokesperson Fawzi Barhoum disclosed that al-Alami accidentally shot himself in the head while examining his gun. The Gaza Health Ministry spokesperson, Dr. Ashraf al-Qidre, stated that the senior official was in critical condition and being treated at the Shifa Hospital in Gaza City, The Times of Israel reports.
Details about al-Alami’s injury, much like stories from his career in Hamas, have been vague and contradictory. The group initially announced that al-Alami had passed away from natural causes before Barhoum corrected the record, according to The Associated Press.
Al-Alami, born in Gaza in 1956, co-founded the Gaza-based Hamas in 1987. The militant group vowed to destroy Israel and drew international condemnation for deploying suicide bombers and firing rockets into the neighboring country, Vox reports.
Hamas currently governs the Gaza Strip but has been at odds with the other Palestinian government, the Palestinian Authority. Attempts to broker peace negotiations with Israel have repeatedly broken down partially due to disagreements between the two governments. Hamas has bolstered its support within Gaza by providing residents with social services that they otherwise would not have.
In 1991, Israel arrested and deported al-Alami to Lebanon on accusations of terrorism. Following his expulsion from Gaza, al-Alami was a key player in fostering alliances between Hamas, the Lebanese militant group Hezbollah, and the Iranian government, according to Foreign Policy.
In 2008, al-Alami moved his operations to Damascus, Syria, where he played a leading role in maintaining Hamas’ ties to Hezbollah and Iran. In 2012, al-Alami fled Damascus as Syria descended into civil war, relocating to Qatar and eventually back to Gaza. Between 2012 and 2017, he served as deputy chief of the Hamas policy committee.
Following the Gaza War between Israel and Hamas in 2014, al-Alami fled to Turkey to receive surgery for serious injuries he sustained to his right leg. There were conflicting stories regarding how the senior official was wounded; some reports said that al-Alami was shot during an internal fight within Hamas, but the group asserted that he was injured by an Israeli airstrike during the fighting in Gaza. Al-Alami himself reportedly said his leg was mangled in an elevator collapse.
In 2003, the U.S. Treasury Department officially labeled al-Alami a terrorist for his participation in Hamas’ militant acts against Israel.
Al-Alami has been among the most secretive officials of Hamas, declining to participate in the group’s press conferences and maintaining a low public profile. There have been no further reports on his condition or chances of survival.