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Emir Of Qatar Becomes First Head Of State To Visit Gaza Since Hamas Took Control

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The red carpet was rolled out in Gaza for the Emir of Qatar, who became the first head of state to visit the territory since the Islamist movement Hamas took control five years ago.

The visit by Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa al Thani is of great political significance for Hamas, which is classed as a terrorist group by the West.

Qatar has pumped £160m of redevelopment money into Gaza – described as “the first drop of rain by an aide to Hamas prime minister Ismail Haniyeh - and al Thani’s convoy was greeted by Qatari posters and flags, put up by a grateful population.

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Gaza's Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh, centre, the Emir of Qatar Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani, left, and Qatar's first lady Sheika Mozah bint Nasser al-Missned, right

One of the first projects to be built using the injection of cash is a highway along the coast.

The funding should transform the enclave, which was partially ruined by Israeli bombing in 2009.

Hamas said in a statement: “It is the first visit by an Arab leader at this level to Gaza. This breaks the political isolation of the government and opens the door to break the siege.”

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Gaza's Hamas prime minister Ismail Haniyeh, centre left, and Emir of Qatar Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani, centre, right, walk together during a welcome ceremony in Rafah