Hamas Chief Arrives in Gaza for First-Ever Visit

In this Friday Nov. 5, 2010, file photo, the leader of Hamas Khaled Mashaal addresses the crowd during a rally at the Yarmouk refugee camp near Damascus, Syria, Hamas’ exiled supreme leader visits the Gaza Strip for the first time this weekend on a landmark trip to the sliver of land ruled by his Islamic militant movement.
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GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip (AP) — Hamas chief Khaled Mashaal has arrived in the Gaza Strip for his first-ever visit. The landmark trip reflects his militant group's burgeoning international acceptance.

Mashaal had left the West Bank as a child and currently leads the Islamic movement from Qatar.

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Mashaal crossed the Egyptian border on Friday and was greeted by Hamas officials and representatives of the rival Fatah party. He kissed the ground as Palestinian orphans — children of Gaza militants killed by Israel in recent years — rushed to greet him.

Mashaal's visit comes after he led the Hamas delegation that accepted a truce to stop last month's eight-day conflict between Israel and Gaza.

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Gaza officials are portraying the landmark visit as a celebration of what they call Hamas' victory in the recent fighting.

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