Hamas Leader Ends Exile With Gaza Visit

Posted December 7th, 2012 at 7:40 am (UTC-5)
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The leader of the Islamist Palestinian militant group Hamas arrived on Gaza Strip soil Friday, ending 45 years of exile from the Palestinian territories.

Khaled Meshaal had not visited the Palestinian territories since leaving the Israeli-occupied West Bank after the 1967 Six-Day War. He kissed the ground shortly after his arrival and hugged friends and Hamas leaders.

Officials say Meshaal will celebrate the Hamas movement's 25th anniversary on Saturday during his trip to the Palestinian enclave.

The trip comes after a cease-fire between Israel and Hamas ended eight days of conflict. The violence killed more than 170 Palestinians and six Israelis.

Hamas won a parliamentary majority in the 2006 Palestinian legislative election and ousted Fatah forces from Gaza a year later. Since then, the two sides have led rival governments in the West Bank and Gaza.