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.

 

5 killed in string of suicide bombings in Lebanon

Netanyahu lauds Israel’s deal with Turkey

Erdogan apologises to Putin over downing of Russia jet

One year on, Tunisia holds minute silence for beach massacre victims

Qatar uses high-tech solution to find perfect pitch

Deadly bombings target Yemen troops in ex-Qaeda bastion

NGOs press EU leaders on Africa migrant plan

Jordanian intelligence officials sold weapons for Syria rebels on black market

On British-Irish border, Brexit breeds worries for future

New lawyers of Gaddafi son urge ICC to drop case

Bahrain jails 5 people on charges linked to ‘terrorism’

Clashes continue at Al-Aqsa compound

Turkey allows German minister visit after air base row

UN chief tells Israelis, Palestinians 'stand firm against violence'

Brexit vote unlikely to curtail Gulf appetite for London property

Egypt cancels high school final exam after online leaks

Dozens killed as clashes intensify in Yemen

Sarraj says only united military can defeat ISIS in Libya

Jordan court charges 21 people with 'terrorism'

Iraq forces take ISIS last positions in Fallujah

Iran conceals heated military standoff in Kurdish region

Brexit vote lays bare depth of division across Britain

Young Britons vent anger at grey Brexit vote

Russia planes pound Aleppo as Syria regime forces closes in

Car bomb kills four civilians in Libya's Benghazi

US-backed Syria fighters edge further into ISIS border hub

Tunisia flaunts seaside security to bring back tourists

Britain and EU: A fraught divorce

Libya govt. forces repel ISIS counterattack in Sirte

Oil slides on British referendum result

Crashed EgyptAir black boxes to go to France for repairs

5,000 migrants rescued from rubber dinghies in Mediterranean

Britain votes to break away from EU, PM resigns

Turkey acquits British academic over 'terror propaganda' charges

24 jailed in Bahrain for forming IS cell

Iraq commander says forces control over 80% of Fallujah

Israel sentences 4 Palestinians to life

Turkey in new quest to patch up with regional foes

Defiant Bahrain moves to dissolve opposition bloc

Kurdish-Arab forces push into IS Syria bastion of Manbij

Yemen govt says rebels must withdraw before any transition

Turkey confirms new accession talks with EU

Saudi suspect found dead after gunfight in Shiite town

Suspended Kuwait sues IOC for damages

Erdogan lashes out at EU treatment of Turkey