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AL JAZEERA (Qatar), BBC NEWS (UK), CNN (USA)

Worldcrunch

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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Ideas

How U.S. Airlines Are Doing Cuba's Dirty Work On American Soil

American and Southwest Airlines have been refusing to allow Cubans on board flights if they've been blacklisted by the government in Havana.

How U.S. Airlines Are Doing Cuba's Dirty Work On American Soil

Boarding a plane in Camaguey, Cuba

Santiago Villa

On Sunday, American Airlines refused to let Cuban writer Carlos Manuel Álvarez board a Miami flight bound for Havana. It was at least the third time this year that a U.S. airline refused to let Cubans on board to return to their homeland after Havana circulated a government "blacklist" of critics of the regime. Clearly undemocratic and possibly illegal under U.S. law, the airlines want to make sure to cash in on a lucrative travel route, writes Colombian journalist Santiago Villa:

-OpEd-

Imagine for a moment that you left your home country years ago because you couldn't properly pursue your chosen career there. It wasn't easy, of course: Your profession is not just singularly demanding, but even at the top of the game you might not be assured a stable or sufficient income, and you've had to take on second jobs, working in bars and restaurants.

This chosen vocation is that of a writer or journalist, or perhaps an artist, which has kept you tied to your homeland, often the subject of your work, even if you don't live there anymore.

Since leaving, you've been back home several times, though not so much for work. Because if you did, you would be followed in cars and receive phone calls to let you know you are being watched.

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