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Hamas Leader Makes Historic Visit To Gaza, Ending 45-Year Exile



GAZA CITY – Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal set foot in Gaza on Friday, ending 45 years of exile from the Palestinian Territories, reports Al Jazeera.

After passing across the Egyptian border at Rafah, Meshaal knelt on the ground to offer a prayer of thanks and was then greeted by dozens of Palestinian officials.

"I consider this moment my third birth, and I pray to God that my fourth birth will be the moment when all of Palestine is liberated," Meshaal said in a statement to the media.

The Hamas leader had not set foot in the Palestinian territories since leaving the West Bank in 1967, reports BBC News. He was eleven years old when he fled to Kuwait with his family.

He has referred to his second birth as the day he survived an Israeli assassination in Jordan in 1997.

Meeshal traveled to Gaza to commemorate the 25th anniversary of the founding of Hamas, reports CNN. A huge rally on Saturday is expected to be the centerpiece of his three-day tour in Gaza.

The 56-year-old leader is also expected to engage reconciliation talks with Fatah, which Hamas removed from Gaza by force in 2007 after winning elections there.

"There is a new mood that allows us to achieve reconciliation," Meshaal said in an interview last Friday from Qatar, where he has been based since leaving Syria earlier this year.

[rebelmouse-image 27086092 alt="""" original_size="320x213" expand=1]Meeshal in 2009 (Trango)

Meeshal became Hamas's political leader in exile in 2004 after Sheikh Ahmed Yassin was killed in an Israeli helicopter missile strike on his car. His trip comes after a ceasefire that ended eight days of armed conflict between Israel and Hamas last month.

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FOCUS: Russia-Ukraine War

Wagner Group 2.0: Why Russia's Mercenary System Is Here To Stay

Many had predicted that the death last month of Wagner Group chief Yevgeny Prigozhin meant the demise of the mercenary outfit. Yet signs in recent days say the private military outfit is active again in Ukraine, a reminder of the Kremlin's interest in continuing a private fighting formula that has worked all around the world.

Photograph of a Wagner soldier in the city of Artyomovsk, holding a rifle.

Ukraine, Donetsk Region - March 24, 2023: A Wagner Group soldier guards an area in the city of Artyomovsk (Bakhmut).

Cameron Manley


“Let’s not forget that there is no Wagner Group anymore,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov had declared. “Such an organization, in our eyes, does not exist.”

The August 25 statement from came less than two days after the death of Yevgeny Prigozhin, leader of the infamous Russian mercenary outfit, as questions swirled about Wagner's fate after its crucial role in the war in Ukraine and other Russian military missions around the world.

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How could an independent military outfit survive after its charismatic founder's death? It seemed highly unlikely that President Vladimir Putin would allow the survival of a group after had launched a short-lived coup attempt in late June that most outside observers believe led to Prigozhin's private airplane being shot down by Russian forces on August 23.

"Wagner is over,” said the Kremlin critic and Russian political commentator Maksim Katz. “The group can’t keep going. There’s the possibility that they could continue in parts or with Defense Ministry contracts, but the group only worked with an unofficial agreement between Putin and Prigozhin.”

Yet barely a month later, and there are already multiple signs that the Wagner phoenix is rising from the ashes.

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