Following is brief profiles of the three top candidates of Hamas list, which on January 25 election gained a massive majority at the Palestinian parliament.
Ismail Abd a-Salam Haniyeh
Haniyeh, 46, is top candidate of Hamas. Born in Gaza Strip's Shati refugee camp, he graduated from Gaza City's Islamic University in 1987 with a degree in Arabic literature and became a close associate of Hamas founder Sheikh Ahmed Yassin.
He was expelled by Israel to south Lebanon in 1992, returned to Gaza Strip a year later and became the dean of the Islamic University. In 1998, he took charge of Yassin's office. Haniyeh served as a liaison between Hamas and the Palestinian Authority, established in 1994.
He rose to prominence after Israel's assassinations in 2004 of Yassin and Yassin's successor, Abdel Aziz Rantisi. Haniyeh has been a member of the political leadership of Hamas since the 1990s.
Muhammad Mahmoud Abu Tir
Abu Tir, 55, was second on the Hamas list. He has spent 25 years in Israeli jails for membership in a "terror" organization, weapons possession and directing the activities of Hamas military wing, Iz al-Din al-Qassam. Following his release, Abu Tir was recruited by Hamas leadership to head its national list after Haniyeh.
Abu Tir is from Jerusalem, and is a former member of Fatah and of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine-General Command. With his bright orange beard, dyed with henna in line with Islamic tradition, Abu Tir preaches in local mosques and is a patriarch of the Abu Teir clan in the neighborhood of Um Tuba on the edge of Jerusalem.
Jamila Abdallah Taha Shanti
Born in 1955, Shanti is the leading woman candidate for Hamas and is third on the movement's national list. A holder of a doctorate in English, she is the widow of assassinated Hamas leader Abdel Aziz Rantisi.
Shanti taught at the Islamic University in Gaza before resigning to campaign for the elections. She is a founder of the women's section in Hamas.