- The Washington Times - Sunday, November 10, 2013

The Islamist Hamas government of the Gaza Strip has appointed, for the first time, a woman to represent it, in hopes of presenting a softer image to its own citizens and the world.

Isra Almodallal, a 23-year-old who speaks fluent English, will be the new face of Hamas, responsible for the Gaza government’s communications with the international media, The Associated Press reported.

“We are looking forward to having a different and unique language,” Ms. Almodallal told the AP. “I know it’s a big responsibility, and it’s not easy to speak on behalf of a government in normal situations, whereas I am working in unique situations.”

Ihab Ghussein, head of the government media department, said he appointed the new spokeswoman in an effort “to be more open to the West.”

“Women are partners in our society,” he told the AP.

Ms. Almodallal said women in Gaza are starting to insert themselves into the public sphere.

“Every day, women’s footsteps can be seen advancing more in society,” she said.

The young spokeswoman takes a slightly different stance toward Israel than her predecessors. She refers to the Jewish state as “Israel,” rather than the “Zionist entity,” and she does not consider herself a Hamas loyalist.

She does believe, however, that the Palestinians should control all of historic Palestine, or the land between the Mediterranean Sea and the Jordan River, including what is now Israel, the AP reported.

“I am not Hamas. I am a Palestinian activist who loves her country,” she said.

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