In a sign of increasing Hamas clout following Operation Pillar of Defense, long-time exiled Hamas leader Khaled Meshal visited Gaza as part of Hamas’s 25th anniversary celebrations on Dec 8.
According to the Associated Press, Mashaal was greeted by a roaring crowd covered in Hamas’ green colors as he emerged onto the stage from a door built into a model of a rocket that was fired at Israel during the recent conflict. Additionally, some children were seen in the crowded dressed in military fatigues and carrying guns.
“We are not giving up any inch of Palestine. It will remain Islamic and Arab for us and nobody else. Jihad and armed resistance is the only way,” Mashaal told the Gaza crowd. “We cannot recognize Israel’s legitimacy.”
It was Mashaal’s first visit to the region since his family left the then Jordanian-controlled West Bank during the 1967 Six Day War.