Hamas political bureau chief Khaled Meshal will visit the Gaza Strip for the first time on December 5, Palestinian officials said Sunday.
Meshal’s planned visit was announced a month ago, before a final date had been set. Meshal lives in exile in Damascus.
The political leader will deliver an address at various ceremonies to be held at that time celebrating the 25th anniversary of the Hamas movement’s founding. This year’s anniversary will be marked with larger-than-usual ceremonies.
Last month, the emir of Qatar to became the first head of state to visit the coastal territory since the Islamic group took power there in 2007.
Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh lauded Sheik Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani’s for his visit, praising him for breaking”the economic and political blockade imposed on the Gaza Strip by a cruel enemy trying to subjugate the Palestinians”.
Meanwhile, a leading Islamic cleric in the Gaza Strip has ruled it a sin to violate the recent cease-fire between Israel and the Hamas militant group that controls the Palestinian territory.
The fatwa, or religious edict, issued by Suleiman al-Daya late Saturday accords a religious legitimacy to the truce and could justify any act by Gaza’s government to enforce it.
“Honoring the truce, which was sponsored by our Egyptian brethren, is the duty of each and every one of us. Violating it shall constitute a sin,” the fatwa read.
The Wednesday truce put an end to an eight-day Israeli offensive against Gaza militants who fired rockets into Israel. The agreement remains fragile because details beyond the initial cease-fire have not yet been worked out.
Al-Daya’s edict came after Moussa Abu Marzouk, a top official in the Strip’s ruling Hamas, said that the group would not stop arming itself because only a strong arsenal, not negotiations, can extract concessions from Israel.