First Published: 2012-12-07

 

Meshaal: I hope God will make me a martyr in Gaza

 

Exiled Hamas chief kisses soil on his first visit to Gaza Strip amid tight security.

 

Middle East Online

His dream came true

RAFAH, Palestinian Territories - Exiled Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal crossed into the Gaza Strip on Friday on his first-ever visit, kissing the ground and hoping he would one day die a "martyr" in the Palestinian territory.

Accompanied by his deputy, Mussa Abu Marzuk, and other senior officials, Meshaal drove through the crossing and then got out and kissed the ground before embracing Gaza's Hamas prime minister Ismail Haniya.

His visit comes just two weeks after the end of a fierce conflict with Israel, which began on November 14 with an Israeli air strike in Gaza City that killed top Hamas militant Ahmed Jaabari.

Shortly after his arrival, Meshaal was taken to see the charred remains of Jaabari's car, which had been transported to Rafah especially for the visit.

"I hope God will make me a martyr on the land of Palestine in Gaza," he said on seeing it.

Izzat al-Rishq, another senior member of the Islamist movement's exiled politbureau, said it was a moving experience to finally be in the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip.

"This is the greatest feeling I've ever had. It is an unforgettable historic moment," he said. "Our wish to kiss the soil of Palestine has come true."

Senior Hamas official Mahmud al-Zahar hailed the visit and said it was replete with symbolism.

"No matter how long a Palestinian is away from his homeland, he will always return after a victory," he said.

Streets across the territory were decked with green Hamas flags to mark the visit, along with the red flags of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) which on December 11 marks its 45th anniversary.

Masked Hamas militants from its Ezzedine al-Qassam Brigades armed wing were out en masse, wearing fatigues and carrying Kalashnikov assault rifles, as they patrolled the roads along which the official convoy was set to travel.

 

Iraq recaptures Amerli from Islamic State in biggest success so far

Iran says new sanctions cast doubt on US sincerity

Shebab target intelligence HQ in Somalia

Libyan Islamist militiamen control US embassy compound

Syria ‘guests’ suffer as prejudice grows in Turkey

Israel shoots down drone over occupied Golan Heights

Yemen army suffers heavy losses in new wave of Qaeda attacks

Turkish army breaks silence on Kurdish peace talks

Islamic State offers grim inspiration to African extremists

Israel expropriates 988 acres of Palestinian land in West Bank

Saudi King calls for ‘strong and rapid action’ against jihadists

Jihadists distribute Yazidi women as spoils of war to fighters

Gulf countries resolve six-month dispute with Qatar

Egypt reduces Badie death sentence to life in prison

AU forces liberate former Shebab stronghold in Somalia

Philippines enters war in Syria!

Kurds put aside old rivalries to battle jihadists in Iraq

US imposes new sanctions on Iran

US supplies arms to Lebanon to fight jihadists

Britain terror threat level raised to ‘severe’

Libya conflict takes its toll on migrants

UN chief lashes out at 'brutal' IS killings in Iraq

Over three million Syrian refugees have fled war

Libya's troubled interim government steps down

Obama admits 'no strategy yet' to fight IS

Israel counts losses and gains in Gaza: Heavy cost for 50 days of war

Saudi Crown Prince flies to France next week: Jihadist threat tops agenda

UN confirms capture of UN peacekeepers in Syria Golan

Islamic State executes dozens of Syria soldiers in new atrocity

'Jihad recruiters' arrested in Netherlands, Germany

Saudi Grand Mufti warns youth against ‘perverted’ calls for jihad

Neo-Ottomanism scores new victory in Turkey: From Ataturk to Erdogan

Fire rises up again from under ashes on Lebanon border

Vital aid arrives in war-battered Gaza

Lebanon seeks to tackle child marriage with new legislation

Hollande: Assad cannot be partner in fight against terrorists

Egypt quizzes Morsi for 'giving security papers to Qatar'

Top Saudi envoys hold talks with Qatar emir

Obama's warfare doctrine to be tested in Syria

UN moves to impose sanctions on Libya militias

Mother of US hostage to leader of Islamic State: Please spare my son

Turkey ruling party officially approves Davutoglu as new PM

US spy agencies face difficult task in Syria

Saudi Arabia jails 18 militants on terror charges

Gazans breathe sigh of relief