Hamas leader to visit Gaza for first time

Khaled Mashaal was barred from the Strip by Egypt’s Mubarak; Hamas coordinating ‘historic’ visit with Muslim Brotherhood

Khaled Mashaal, November 2012 (photo credit: screen capture/cnn.com)
Khaled Mashaal, November 2012 (photo credit: screen capture/cnn.com)

GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip (AP) — A senior Hamas official in Gaza says the Islamic militant group’s leader is poised to pay his first visit ever to the coastal strip.

Khaled Mashaal is set to visit Gaza next week to mark the movement’s 25th anniversary and congratulate its leaders and militants for battling Israel during a recent 8-day offensive.

Mashaal was previously prevented from crossing into Gaza by longtime Egyptian leader Hosni Mubarak. Hamas says it is coordinating the visit with Egypt’s new Muslim Brotherhood leaders.

The official, who spoke anonymously Saturday, citing security concerns, called the visit “historic.”

Hamas violently overtook Gaza from forces loyal to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas’ Fatah party in 2007. It has yet to reconcile with Fatah, which rules the West Bank.

Until recently, Mashaal had been based in Syria.

Copyright 2012 The Associated Press.

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