Hamas, the governing body of the Gaza Strip, announced the appointment of the Isra al Modallal as their spokesperson. Hiring Isra is the first move in changing the face of Hamas on the world stage and at home. She is the first female spokesperson to date and is now responsible for Gaza’s communications with the international media.
Isra al Modallal is a 23 year old, divorced and single mother of a four year old. Her English is of British decent and she lived in the United Kingdom while her father was attending the university. She told The Guardian newspaper that she has fond memories of the U.K. and that her time there was a good part of her life.
Isra attended the Islamic University in Gaza and majored in media studies. Before taking the position with the Hamas government, she worked as a journalist and television announcer.
Isra made it clear she aligns herself with the Palestinians and not Hamas by specifically stating, “I am not Hamas. I am a Palestinian activist who loves her country,” and announced she was willing to represent the rival West Bank as their spokesperson as well.
Hamas has governed the Gaza Strip since June 2007. The U.S., Israel, Canada and European Union consider Hamas to be a terrorist organization. Iran, Russia, Turkey and other Middle Eastern countries do not classify Hamas the same. The Hamas Charter of 1988 established the organization’s position on creating an Islamic state and liberating Palestinians from Israeli occupation. The group is attributed with vast social services including the construction of libraries, mosques, hospitals and schools as well as implementing a healthcare system. They grant support to families who suffer through military deaths or housing destruction. The current leader is Khaled Mashal.
Isra al Modallal will represent the new image of the government. The government began a public transformation six months ago with the new head of media, Ihab Ghussein, who appointed younger personnel, orchestrated a new government website, activated the social media platform and began offering workshops. Ghussein said he appointed Isra to help Hamas “to be more open to the West,” and that there were many women applicants. Isra pointed out how women are advancing more and more everyday in Gazan society. This is evident in the appointing of a woman to represent it.
Mainly, her position will include primarily speaking about Gazan government affairs such as education, socialistic programs and Israeli blockades.
Isra maintains that Hamas’s reputation is directly correlated with the unfair media coverage given by Israel. “They change the truth and show the opposite picture of Palestine and the Palestinians,” she said.
Equally challenging, Hamas has recently lost its alley of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt after the ousting of former President Mohamed Morsi in July.
Currently, the Gaza Strip remains an outsider with Western countries but Isra acknowledged her strategic position and challenge by saying “I know it’s a big responsibility and its not easy to speak on behalf of a government in normal situations, whereas I am working in unique situations.” The first unique situation was the announcement that a woman will be representing Hamas with future endeavors.
By Cayce Manesiotis