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last updated Jan. 9, 2010 2:30 PM (EST+7)
Mahmoud al-Zahar
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Palestinian politics Hamas
Dr Mahmoud al-Zahar was foreign minister in the government formed by Hamas between March 2006 and March 2007.

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Al-Zahar was born in Gaza City in 1951 to a Palestinian father and an Egyptian mother. He was brought up in the city of Ismailia in Egypt. He received a degree in medicine from Ein Shams University in Cairo in 1971 and then specialized in general surgery. After completing his studies he worked as a physician in hospitals in Gaza City and Khan Younis. He was head of the nursing department at the Islamic University where he still lectures. He has written several political and literary publications.

Shortly after Hamas was established, he was arrested by the Israeli authorities during the first large scale campaign against Hamas. He was amongst those deported to Marj Zuhur in southern Lebanon in 1992. After the establishment of the Palestinian Authority in 1994 and after Hamas had conducted several bombing operations against Israel, al-Zahar was arrested by the Palestinian security services for several months in 1996.

On September 10, 2003, he became the target of an assassination attempt when Israeli F16 planes shelled his home in the Rimal Quarter of Gaza. Although he survived the raid, his eldest son, Khaled, and one of his companions died, and his wife suffered serious injuries.
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