Bahrain’s foreign minister on Monday rebuffed reports that the country’s king would visit Gaza this week.
On Sunday, Egypt’s state-run news agency and a Gaza newspaper reported that Hamad bin Eisa Al Khalifa would visit the Strip on Thursday, citing “informed sources.”
On Monday, however, the foreign minister in Manama, Sheikh Khalid Bin Ahmad Al Khalifa, said that there was no planned trip.
“There is no scheduled visit by HM King Hamad Bin Eisa to Gaza or to the Palestinian territories and there are no visits planned for the future,” he wrote on the Twitter social media website.
MENA and Palestine Today, run by the Gazan Islamic Jihad terror group, reported that the king of the island nation would fly to Arish International Airport in the northern Sinai desert, then travel by helicopter to the Rafah border crossing and drive into Gaza accompanied by heavy Egyptian and Bahraini security forces.
According to the reports, the king was to meet with Hamas Gaza chief Ismail Haniyeh and was expected to offer financial aid to the cash-strapped Gazan economy. Palestine Today reported that the visit was arranged by the United Nations Relief and Works Agency.
Last week, Qatari Emir Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani visited Gaza and met with Haniyeh. During that visit, in which he was feted by songs, parades and billboards thanking him for his largesse, he encouraged Hamas and Fatah to reconcile and announced that Qatar’s aid package to Gaza would be increased to $400 million from $250 million.
Since that visit, rocket fire from Gaza into Israel has seen a significant increase, with Israeli forces responding with airstrikes.
Khalifa has been under heavy domestic pressure to pass democratic reforms for over a year. Protesters in the small country have complained of a brutal crackdown by the ruling monarchy.