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Gaza 'Siege'? Arab Leaders Continue to Freely Visit

Gaza’s Hamas rulers constantly claim that the region is under an “Israeli siege”, but continue to host leaders of Arab countries.
By Elad Benari
First Publish: 1/21/2013, 4:12 AM

Hamas PM Ismail Haniyeh
Hamas PM Ismail Haniyeh
Israel news photo: Flash 90

Gaza’s Hamas terrorist rulers constantly claim that the region is under an “Israeli siege”, but are continuing to host leaders of Arab countries.

The latest to schedule a visit is Tunisian President Moncef Marzouki, who will make his first visit to Gaza on February 9, according to officials from the Hamas government who spoke to AFP on Sunday.

"Tunisia President Marzouki will carry out a very important visit to the Gaza Strip on February 9,” Hamas official Ghazi Hammad told the news agency, without giving details of the president's itinerary, or who would be accompanying him.

“This important visit will boost Arab solidarity with the Palestinian cause,” Hammad added, saying that “this solidarity must be used to achieve Palestinian national reconciliation.”

Marzouki's visit will be the latest in a string of high-profile trips to Gaza by Arab and Muslim leaders. In October, the emir of oil-rich Qatar visited Hamas-controlled Gaza, bringing with him money for its Hamas government.

His visit was the first by a foreign leader to Gaza since Hamas overthrew Fatah in a bloody militia war in 2007.

During last November's Operation Pillar of Defense in Gaza, a delegation of Arab foreign ministers, along with Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu, visited Gaza.

Also during Pillar of Defense, Egypt’s Prime Minister Hisham Qandil visited the coastal enclave.

As well, according to a Sunday report in the PA’s Wafa news agency, Malaysia’s Prime Minister, Najib Razak, is scheduled to spend few hours in Gaza on Tuesday.

Sources in Gaza told the news agency that Razak, who will be accompanied by his wife and an official delegation including his foreign minister, will visit terror sites that were destroyed by Israeli air attacks during Pillar of Defense and inaugurate projects.

Meanwhile on Sunday, Hamas’s de-facto Prime Minister in Gaza, Ismail Haniyeh, called on the PA leadership living abroad to visit Gaza in order to demonstrate “the adherence to the fundamental Palestinian rights and principles.”

Haniyeh made ​​the comments during a meeting with Osama Hamdan, a member of Hamas's political bureau, who arrived in Gaza on Sunday. He said that the ongoing visits to Gaza by Arab leaders demonstrate the victory over Israel and the national unity between Arabs living abroad and in “Palestine.”