The Emir of Qatar, Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa, and his wife, Sheikha Moza, finally arrived in the Gaza Strip today following the announcement of their impending trip several weeks ago. The royals arrived through the Rafah border crossing in a visit aimed at breaking the long siege on Gaza.
The move is being viewed as a simultaneous Qatari-Egyptian effort to bring the siege to an end. As such, the Egyptian Minister of Education attended the event as a representative of Egyptian President, Mohamed Morsi.
The initial amount of funds specified for all project s in Gaza was approximately $300 million, but has now been increased by Sheikh Hamad to $400 million and it is hoped that in the future there will be a further increase in this sum for the re-construction of the Gaza.
The visit began with an official ceremony at the Rafah crossing followed by the opening of the Hamad Residential Town in Khan Younis.
The delegation also laid the foundation stone for a hospital that is to specialise in artificial limbs, and met with Palestinian amputees in the north. Finally, they paid a visit to the Islamic University and met with prominent Palestinian personalities before the Emir and his wife were both awarded honorary doctorates for their efforts on behalf of the Palestinian people and the valuable projects they have contributed to.
The Qatari Emir affirmed that the steadfastness of the people of Gaza is a result of the pride within the Arab soul which has been steadfast and patient. He thanked the Egyptian people, asserting that had it not been for the revolution and the Egyptian President; he would not have been there among them.
After thanking and praising both the Egyptian and Qatari delegations, Gaza's Prime Minister, Ismael Haniya, confirmed that the visit had broken the political and economic blockade of the Gaza Strip. He also stated that the axis of evil wished to see Gaza broken and tortured.
The delegation was also honoured with the presence of the families of the martyrs who presented the Emir with gifts including, "the key of return, a handful of the blessed earth, olive oil, a model of the Dome of the Rock and the guardianship of the martyrs."
MEMO Photographer: Mohammed Asad