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.

 

Congress approves Iran sanctions extension

Pentagon says IS jihadists making 'last stand' in Sirte

Staggering casualty toll in Mosul offensive

Putin getting admirers from US to Europe to Syria

Qarawiyyin library holds written wonders

Syria regime seizes half of rebel parts of Aleppo

Europol warns of changing IS tactics

Palestinian contenders for Fatah posts set to declare

Protests erupt in Istanbul over ‘Aleppo massacre’

Aleppo family reunited after war kept them apart for months

Syria rebels put up fight for key Aleppo district

Obama unlikely to act on Israel-Palestine before leaving office

UN says torture 'widespread' after Turkey coup

International push aims to protect endangered heritage

Journalist's body found shot in Iraq’s Kurdish region

Iran urges Kenya to release two of its citizens

Morocco business diplomacy at heart of strategy to rejoin African Union

Turkish prosecutor calls for drop of Gaza ship charges against Israelis

Iran preparing ‘appropriate’ response to US sanctions renewal

Saudi government detects fresh hacking attempts

Iraq faces post-IS problem in Shiite militias

Turkey detains business executive for alleged Gulen links

Putin says Russia not looking for enemies

Tunisia sentences protesters to 14 years in jail

Saudi increases jail term for rights activist to 11 years

Misery deepens for Mosul refugees with heavy rain

Turkish parliament to vote on bill expanding Erdogan’s power

UN envoy to Yemen, President meet in new peace bid

Syrian Grand Mufti rejects terrorism claims

Qatar blocks popular news website

Desperate civilians brave Aleppo front line

OPEC spares Iran oil production cuts

Minister says Abbas is Israel's top 'ideological' foe

Erdogan insists Syria operation only targets terrorists

Kuwait opposition must form strong coalition to be effective

Russian FM denies Russia, Syria to blame for Turkish deaths

UN warns of ‘giant graveyard’ in Aleppo as Syrian troops advance

Nobel laureates call for protection of heritage sites

OPEC output cut boosts oil price

Morocco accuses AU chair of blocking readmission

Israel delays Knesset vote on mosque volume, settler homes

Mayors from world’s biggest cities plot Trump-era climate plan

Syria rebels, Russia hold Aleppo talks in Ankara

Russia demands explanation over Erdogan vow to oust Assad

Prospects for Palestine remain grim