Mahmoud Zahar is a co-founder of Hamas and a member of the Hamas leadership in Gaza.
Zahar graduated from the Cairo University Faculty of Medicine in 1971 and later he got his Masters Degree in General Surgery from Ain Shams University in Cairo. He then became the adviser to the Palestinian Health Minister, and helped create the Palestinian Medical Society and was one of the primary founders of the Islamic University in Gaza in 1978.
Zahar was instrumental in the founding of Hamas in 1987 and served as a senior official and spokesman of the organization. Israeli Army Radio reported on April 18, 2004, that following the assassination of Abdel Aziz Rantisi, Zahar became the leader of Hamas. He had been Rantisi's deputy. Hamas did not publicly announce Rantisi's successor out of fear that Israel would target him.
In March 2006, following the Hamas victory in the Palestinian Authority elections, Zahar was appointed Foreign Minister. He held this position until March 2007 when Hamas wrested control of Gaza away from Fatah and split from the Palestinian Authority.
During a ceremony to honor Hamas police chiefs killed by Israeli fire during Operation Protective Edge, Zahar was quoted saying that "we don't want to establish an Islamic emirate in Gaza; we want an Islamic state in all Palestine".
Zahar is married and has had four children, including two were killed by the IDF for their involvement in terror.