Hamas Chief Arrives in Gaza for First-Ever Visit

Mashaal had left the West Bank as a child and currently leads the Islamic movement from Qatar.

Friday, Dec 7, 2012  |  Updated 6:00 AM CDT
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Hamas Chief Arrives in Gaza for First-Ever Visit

Khaled Meshaal, pictured here with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, visited the Gaza Strip for the first time since fleeing in 1967.

Hamas chief Khaled Mashaal has arrived in the Gaza Strip for his first-ever visit. The landmark trip reflects his militant group's burgeoning international acceptance.

Mashaal had left the West Bank as a child and currently leads the Islamic movement from Qatar.

Mashaal crossed the Egyptian border on Friday and was greeted by Hamas officials and representatives of the rival Fatah party. He kissed the ground as Palestinian orphans — children of Gaza militants killed by Israel in recent years — rushed to greet him.

Mashaal's visit comes after he led the Hamas delegation that accepted a truce to stop last month's eight-day conflict between Israel and Gaza.

Gaza officials are portraying the landmark visit as a celebration of what they call Hamas' victory in the recent fighting.

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