Gaza, Oct 23: Qatar’s Emir, Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani, laid the cornerstone of a housing complex bearing his name in the Gaza Strip shortly after he arrived in the Palestinian enclave Tuesday, reported Xinhua.
The project is part of a series of rebuilding plans Qatar has declared in the Hamas-controlled coastal territory.
Ismail Haniyeh, the Hamas prime minister, announced at the event that the Emir increased the Qatari grant to Gaza from $254 million to $400 million.
Haniyeh said the arrival of the Emir, the first such high-profile visit since Hamas took over Gaza in 2007, was “a declaration of victory against the siege”, referring to the blockade Israel imposed on Gaza.
The Qatari Emir entered Gaza through Rafah border crossing point between the enclave and Egypt, leading a senior delegation whose members include his wife, Mouza Bint Nasser and his Prime Minister Sheikh Hamad bin Jassim Al Thani.
Haniyeh and senior leaders of the Islamic movement organized an official red-carpet reception for the Qatari dignitaries at the crossing. The visit is expected to last for a few hours.
The Hamas prime minister also thanked Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi for “taking care of the Qatari trend” toward Gaza, saying that Egypt provided all the needed facilities for this visit and the Qatari rebuilding project.
The Qatari initiative in Gaza came as a defiance to Israel and the West, who have been trying to keep Hamas under a diplomatic and political isolation. The visit also deals a blow to the West Bank-based Palestinian leadership.