"All I want for Christmas?" - Hamas chief Meshaal hopes to be 'martyr in Gaza'.(HD).Hamas leader-in-exile Khaled Meshaal said on his first-ever visit to the Gaza Strip on Friday that he hoped to become a "a martyr" in the Palestinian territory. "I hope God will make me a martyr on the land of Palestine in Gaza," Meshaal told reporters shortly after crossing from Egypt into Gaza via the southern Rafah crossing. Accompanied by his deputy, Mussa Abu Marzuk, and other senior officials, Meshaal drove through the crossing and then got out and kissed the ground before embracing Gaza's Hamas prime minister Ismail Haniya.
The Islamist group's leader, Khaled Meshaal, who has not visited the Palestinian Territories since leaving the West Bank at age 11, emerged emboldened from the eight day conflict which ended in a truce he negotiated under Egypt's auspices. He has since spoken of reaching out to other Palestinian factions. "There is a new mood that allows us to achieve reconciliation," Meshaal told Reuters in an interview last Friday from Qatar, where he has set up home since leaving Syria earlier this year. He will stay for a little more than 48 hours in the coastal enclave, which Hamas has ruled since a 2007 war with Fatah that rules the West Bank. Hamas plans an open-air rally on Saturday to promote what it says was last month's victory against Israel, and at the same time commemorate the 25th anniversary of the group's founding.
The Arab Spring revolts of the last two years have brought friends of Hamas to power across the region, above all Egypt's new President Mohamed Mursi, whose long-banned Muslim Brotherhood is spiritual mentor to Hamas.
The Arab Spring has seen Hamas, long supported by Shi'ite Iran, grow closer to neighbouring Sunni Arab states. Although Israel steadfastly refuses to talk to a group which calls for its destruction and rockets its towns, Meshaal, who has survived poisoning by Israeli assassins, could yet emerge as an important figure in the long-stalled Israeli-Palestinian peace process. Workers have festooned Gaza with the green flag of Hamas ahead of Meshaal's arrival via neighbouring Egypt.
A large stage has been set up in the strip's main city, complete with a huge model of the homemade M75 rocket, which was fired at both Tel Aviv and Jerusalem in last month's conflict. His abrupt departure from Syria initially weakened his position within Hamas: ties with Damascus and Tehran had made him important, but with those links damaged or broken, rivals based within Gaza had started to assert their authority. However, the exiled leader regained the initiative during the November fighting, working closely with Egypt and its new Muslim Brotherhood rulers to secure the ceasefire. His newfound confidence was evident when he appeared alongside Mursi after the deal with Israel. Nevertheless, he told Reuters he plans to step down as Hamas leader, despite calls on him "internally and externally" to carry on. Many Gazans doubt he will actually leave his post. It has not been made clear whether his visit will mark the end of a secretive leadership election ongoing for six months. Gaza, which is still cut off from the outside world by an Israeli land and sea blockade, has been breaking out of its isolation, with recent high level delegations from Qatar, Turkey, Egypt and the Arab League. "There is a new Arab presence, there is a different kind of support," Meshaal said last week.Hmmmmm.....Lets hope the IDF Santa grants his wish.Read the full story here.