Khaled Meshal, leader of the Hamas islamist terror organization, fell to his knees to kiss the soil of the Gaza Strip on December 7. This was Meshal’s first visit to Gaza, which on December 8 will celebrate the 25th anniversary of his movement. It is the truce mediated by Egypt between Israel and Palestinian militants that allowed Meshal to return from Damascus in safety, according to Hamas sources.
This is his first visit since he went into exile 45 years ago. To celebrate, Meshal promised that he would “liberate” Jerusalem and West Bank. He thanked Palestinians and their armed members for the “liberation” of the Gaza Strip from Israeli occupation. “Without all of you, I would not be here. I owe you and all the members of the militias of the armed Palestinian armed resistance. Today Gaza, tomorrow it will be the West Bank and Jerusalem,” said Meshal in Rafah after crossing the border from Egypt.
Meshal came in the company of four other Hamas leaders and was received by the Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniya of Gaza. Several other ministers and high-level Hamas functionaries from various Palestinian groupings were on hand. Representatives of Fatah, the movement of the deceased Palestinian leader Yasir Arafat, were also on hand. Meshal’s wife and family arrived in Gaza on December 6.
“Visiting Gaza is the third birth in my life. The first was when I was born; the second was when I was re-born when the enemy (Israel) tried to murder me in 1997, and the third is today, December 7, 2012. I hope that my fourth birth will be when we liberate all of Palestine,” said Meshal on the Hamas-controlled Al Aqsa television.
Gaza’s Prime Minister Haniya said that Meshal’s visit is “an historic movement and an inflexible issue for the Palestinian people.” Haniya vowed, “We will continue taking steps and shout in the face of the occupation to liberate our occupied land.”
On December 8, Hamas will celebrate its 25th anniversary, which actually falls on December 14. December 8 is the actually the anniversary of the first intifada – or uprising – against Israel’s occupation of Gaza.