Qatar's emir departs for Gaza on first official visit

October 23, 2012 09:25

DUBAI - The Emir of Qatar will on Tuesday be the first head of state to visit Gaza since Egypt and Israel launched a blockade of the Palestinian enclave in 2007, breaking the isolation of its Iran-backed rulers Hamas.

The official Qatar News Agency (QNA) said Emir Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani, who has led Arab efforts to support rebels in Syria and Libya during Arab Spring revolts, had left Doha with a large delegation including his wife Sheikh Moza, Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Hamad bin Jassim and other ministers.

Gaza, under partial blockade by Israel and Egypt, has no airport or seaport, and the Qatari delegation was expected to enter by land from Egypt. QNA gave no details.

Sheikh Hamad is officially visiting the territory to inaugurate reconstruction projects worth over $250 million, which an envoy of his oil-rich, conservative Arab emirate unveiled in Gaza last week.

The emir will be the first foreign leader to go to Gaza under the rule of Hamas.

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