U.S. media is reporting on the first visit ever to Gaza by Hamas political leader Khaled Meshaal in honor of the 25th anniversary of the founding of Hamas. According to a Washington post report, Meshaal took the opportunity to reiterate a call for the complete destruction of Israel:
JERUSALEM — In a fiery speech Saturday before a mammoth rally in Gaza City marking the 25th anniversary of the founding of Hamas, Khaled Meshal, the political leader of the militant Islamist group, pledged that it would never recognize Israel and called for an Islamic Palestinian state on the territory of Israel, the West Bank and Gaza Strip. Meshal spoke during his first visit to Gaza, a triumphant tour after a recent eight-day war between Hamas and Israel, and 15 years after he survived an Israeli assassination attempt in Jordan. A sea of green flags filled Katiba Square in Gaza City as Meshal and the Hamas prime minister in Gaza, Ismail Haniyeh, walked out of a giant replica of a long-range Hamas M-75 rocket set up on a stage with a mock-up of the walls of Jerusalem’s Old City. Tens of thousands gathered for what was billed as both an anniversary and a victory celebration after last month’s conflict, during which Hamas fired rockets toward Tel Aviv and Jerusalem. Meshal, who has led Hamas from exile, used the occasion to reiterate the group’s long-held principles, calling for ‘armed resistance’ to eliminate Israel. ‘Palestine, from the river to the sea, from north to south, is our land,’ Meshal said, ‘Not an inch of it can be conceded.’ ‘We cannot recognize the legitimacy of Israel’s occupation of Palestine,’ he said. ‘There is no legitimacy to occupation, and therefore no legitimacy for Israel, no matter how long it will take.’ ‘Liberating Palestine, all of Palestine, is a duty, a right and a goal,’ he added.
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A post from October reported on a speech Meshaal gave in Cairo in which said that “Nothing will restore the homeland but jihad, the rifle, and self-sacrifice” and that Zionists are the enemies of Allah and of Muhammad, Jesus, Moses, and Abraham – the enemies of the Prophets, of the Messengers, of values, and of morality.’ Read the rest here.
According to a BBC profile, Mr. Meshaal (aka Khaled Mishal) joined the Muslim Brotherhood in 1971:
“Mr Meshaal was born in 1956 in the village of Silwad, near the West Bank city of Ramallah. Meshaal has been increasingly important since Sheikh Yassin died. His father, like many other Palestinians, travelled to the Gulf emirate of Kuwait in the 1960s for work. His family followed after the area fell under Israeli occupation in 1967.At school, Mr Meshaal became involved in Palestinian and Islamic activism. He joined the Muslim Brotherhood in 1971. Mr Meshaal continued to take interest political Islam while studying physics at Kuwait University and he founded a student organisation called the List of the Islamic Right. After graduating in 1978, he spent a number of years teaching physics in Kuwait. In 1987, Palestinian Muslim Brotherhood leaders in Gaza founded the Islamic Resistance Movement, Hamas, in response to a mass uprising against the Israeli occupation. Mr Meshaal became increasingly involved with Hamas over the next few years, leading what was known as the Kuwait contingent of Palestinians who lived and worked there.
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A post from May 2009 provides further detail on Mr. Meshaal’s early activities in the Kuwaiti Muslim Brotherhood.
The Hamas charter states that it is ” is one of the wings of the Muslim Brothers in Palestine” and an early media report indicated that shortly after Hamas took over the Gaza strip, Muslim Brotherhood representatives were present to review Hamas military formations . In 2007, a Hamas journalist acknowledged the role that the “international Muslim Brotherhood” has played in providing funds for the purchase of weapons and in 2008, an Israeli TV station reported that Muslim Brotherhood “representatives” had traveled to Gaza from Egypt through the open border to meet with Hamas. Hamas is supported financially and politically by the global Muslim Brotherhood and a NEFA Foundation report has documented the Hamas fund-raising activities of the Union of Good, a coalition of Islamic charities linked to the Brotherhood that provides financial support to both the Hamas “social” infrastructure, as well as its terrorist activities. Previous posts have also discussed the worldwide campaign orchestrated by the global Brotherhood against Israeli actions in Gaza during the 2008-2009 conflict with Israel.
A post from last September reported that Khaled Meshaal had decided to step down from his position as head of the Hamas political leadership.