News / Middle East

Hamas Leader Ends Exile, Visits Gaza

Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal arrives at the Islamist Ennahda party congress in Tunis,  July, 12, 2012.
Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal arrives at the Islamist Ennahda party congress in Tunis, July, 12, 2012.
VOA News
The exiled leader of the Islamist Palestinian militant group Hamas stepped onto Gaza soil for the first time in 45 years and kissed the ground after crossing from Egypt.

Khaled Meshaal was greeted by crowds of supporters, including Gaza's Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh and other Hamas leaders and friends when his convoy crossed the border from Egypt into the Palestinian territory.

Surrounded by heavy security, Meshaal told reporters he was overjoyed at finally setting foot in Gaza. He said he hoped to become a martyr for his homeland.  "I am back in Gaza," said Meshaal.  "And I say I am back because I never visited Gaza before, but Gaza was always in my heart. I am back in Gaza because it never left my heart."

  • Hamas chief Khaled Meshaal (front R) walks with senior Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh (front L) upon his arrival at the Rafah crossing in the southern Gaza Strip, December 7, 2012.
  • Hamas chief Khaled Meshaal prays, with his head to the ground, upon his arrival at the Rafah crossing in the southern Gaza Strip, December 7, 2012.
  • Hamas chief Khaled Meshaal (L), rides in a car with senior Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh (R), and waves to the crowd upon his arrival in the southern Gaza Strip, December 7, 2012.
  • Palestinian members of the al-Qassam brigades, the armed wing of the Hamas movement, stand guard as they wait for the arrival of Hamas chief Khaled Meshaal in Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip, December 7, 2012.
  • Palestinian members of the al-Qassam brigades, the armed wing of the Hamas movement, patrol a street as they await the arrival of Hamas chief Khaled Meshaal in Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip, December 7, 2012.

Meshaal had not visited the Palestinian territories since leaving the Israeli-occupied West Bank after the 1967 Six-Day War.  Meshaal returned in 1975, but only for a brief visit. The exiled Hamas chief has been leading the Islamic militant movement from Qatar and has most recently been in Egypt.

Haniyeh said Meshaal's visit is a historic moment for the Palestinians and a victory for the people and for Gaza.

"These are the solid steps toward the return, this is like a shout in the face of the occupation, you [Israelis] will not stay on this Holy Land this is our nation and our leadership," said Haniyeh.

Hamas Facts
  • Largest Palestinian militant Islamist group
  • Founded in 1987 during the first Palestinian uprising
  • Armed wing is Ezzedine al-Qassam Brigades
  • Founding charter calls for destruction of Israel
  • US, EU label Hamas a terrorist organization
  • Won Palestinian legislative elections in 2006
Upon arriving in Gaza, Meshaal was taken to the charred car of Hamas militant chief Ahmad Jabari, who was assassinated by Israel at the beginning of last month's eight-day conflict. The violence killed more than 170 Palestinians and six Israelis before ending in a cease-fire. Israel said it was responding to continued rocket fire from Hamas militants in Gaza on Israeli cities.

Meshaal is spending two days in Gaza, and will celebrate the Hamas movement's 25th anniversary on Saturday.

Meshaal was nearly assassinated in Jordan in 1997 by Israeli agents who squirted a deadly poison into his ear, surviving only when Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was persuaded by international mediation to provide Meshaal with an antidote.  

Hamas is shunned as a terrorist organization by Israel and the West, which back the rival and more moderate Palestinian Authority in the West Bank. But Meshaal's visit points to Hamas' improving stature in the Middle East in the wake of the revolutions of the Arab Spring.

Hamas won a parliamentary majority in the 2006 Palestinian legislative election and ousted Fatah forces from Gaza a year later. Since then, the two sides have led rival governments in the West Bank and Gaza.

You May Like

Video Is West Doing Enough to Tackle Islamic State?

There is growing uncertainty over whether West’s response to ISIS is adequate More

China Crackdown on Dual Citizens Causes Concern

New policy encourages reporting people who obtain citizenship in another country, but retain Chinese citizenship; move spurs sharp debate More

Video Coalition to Fight Islamic State Could Reward Assad

Losing ground to Islamic State fighters, Syria's government says it is ready to cooperate with international community More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: marcuscassius from: usa
December 07, 2012 9:13 AM
All I read was "We want aid. Give us farming. Give us livestock. Fix our government or else."

You know what? We've been paying through the nose to keep Afican alive for 50 years . They do the same thing there that they do here. Gimme more. It's your fault if I'm hungry. Fix it.

Fix it yourself.!

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Is West Doing Enough to Tackle Islamic State?i
X
Henry Ridgwell
August 29, 2014 12:26 AM
U.S. President Barack Obama has ruled out sending ground troops to Iraq to fight militants of the so-called Islamic State, or ISIS, despite officials in Washington describing the extremist group as the biggest threat the United States has faced in years. Henry Ridgwell reports from London on the growing uncertainty over whether the West’s response to ISIS will be enough to defeat the terrorist threat.
Video

Video Is West Doing Enough to Tackle Islamic State?

U.S. President Barack Obama has ruled out sending ground troops to Iraq to fight militants of the so-called Islamic State, or ISIS, despite officials in Washington describing the extremist group as the biggest threat the United States has faced in years. Henry Ridgwell reports from London on the growing uncertainty over whether the West’s response to ISIS will be enough to defeat the terrorist threat.
Video

Video Pachyderms Play Polo to Raise Money for Elephants

Polo, the ancient team competition typically played on horseback, is known as the “sport of kings.” However, the royal version for one annual event in Thailand swaps the horse for the kingdom’s national symbol - the elephant. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman in Samut Prakan reports that the King’s Cup Elephant Polo tournament is all for a good cause.
Video

Video Coalition to Fight Islamic State Could Reward Assad

The United States along with European and Mideast allies are considering a broader assault against Islamic State fighters who have spread from Syria into Iraq and risk further destabilizing an already troubled region. But as VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports, confronting those militants could end up helping the embattled Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
Video

Video Made in America Socks Get Toehold in Online Fashion Market

Three young entrepreneurs are hoping to revolutionize the high-end sock industry by introducing all-American creations of their own. And they’re doing most of it the old-fashioned way. VOA’s Julie Taboh recently caught up with them to learn what goes into making their one-of-a-kind socks.
Video

Video Americans, Ex-Pats Send Relief Supplies to West Africa

Health organizations from around the world are sending supplies and specialists to the West African countries that are dealing with the worst Ebola outbreak in history. On a smaller scale, ordinary Americans and African expatriates living in the United States are doing the same. VOA's Carol Pearson reports.
Video

Video America's Most Popular Artworks Displayed in Public Places

Public places in cities across America were turned into open-air art galleries in August. Pictures of the nation’s most popular artworks were displayed on billboards, bus shelters, subway platforms and more. The idea behind “Art Everywhere,” a collaborative campaign by five major museums is to allow more people to enjoy art and learn about the country’s culture and history. Faiza Elmasry has more.
Video

Video Chinese Doctors Use 3-D Spinal Implant

A Chinese boy suffering from a debilitating bone disease has become the first patient with a part of his spine created in a three-dimensional printer. Doctors say he will soon regain normal mobility. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Uneasy Calm Settles Over Israel, Gaza Strip

Israel and the Gaza Strip have been calm since a cease-fire set in Tuesday evening, ending seven weeks of hostilities. Hamas, which controls Gaza, declared victory. Israelis were more wart. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from Jerusalem.
Video

Video India’s Leprosy Battle Stymied by Continuing Stigma

Medical advancements in the treatment of leprosy have greatly diminished its impact around the world, largely eliminating the disease from most countries. India made great strides in combating leprosy, but still accounts for a majority of the world’s new cases each year, and the number of newly infected Indians is rising - more than 130,000 recorded last year. Doctors there say the problem has more to do with society than science. Shaikh Azizur Rahman reports from Kolkata.
Video

Video Scientists Unlock Mystery of Bird Flocks

How can flocks of birds, schools of fish or herds of antelope suddenly change direction -- all the individuals adjusting their movement in concert, at seemingly the same time? British researchers now have some insights into this behavior, which has puzzled scientists for a long time. VOA's George Putic has more.

AppleAndroid