Hamas leader makes first tour of Arab countries in 4 years
Hamas Gaza leader Ismail Haniyeh left Sunday on a tour of several Muslim countries, his first since his militant Islamist movement seized control of the coastal enclave in June 2007, DPA reported.
Haniyeh will visit Egypt, Sudan, Tunisia, Bahrain and Turkey, his aide Yousef Rizqah said in a statement. The aim is to garner support for the Palestinians and for Gaza Strip.
The Gaza leader announced last week that he had also received and accepted an invitation from the Emir of Qatar.
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas dismissed Haniyeh from the premiership after Hamas routed security officials loyal to the Palestinian Authority, and seized full control of the Gaza Strip, in June 2007.
Haniyeh refused to accept Abbas' decree, and since then Hamas has been ruling the Gaza Strip, while an Abbas-appointed government controls the West Bank.
The Hamas takeover led Israel to tighten its blockade of the Strip, and Egypt's closure of the Rafah border crossing meant Haniyeh and other Hamas leaders were unable to travel.
Israel eased its blockade last year, and Egypt opened Rafah in May.