Two more international delegations have arrived in the Gaza Strip, where they have been received by Palestinian Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh. The groups are from Australia and Turkey.
The Australian delegation is made up of 25 senior Muslim scholars, headed by the Mufti of Australia, Sheikh Ibrahim Salem. Members of the Turkish Welfare Party made up the second delegation.
In his welcome addresses to the two groups, Mr. Haniyeh affirmed that the ongoing visits of international delegations to the Gaza Strip is an extension of the latest Palestinian success against Israel's military offensive against civilians in November.
Describing the "new era" in the Middle East, the Prime Minister said that he expects there to be "more independence" from Western influence. "It will be completely different from the old era," he claimed.
In response, Mufti Salem said that it is a great pleasure to be in the holy land to learn lessons about dignity from its sons: "The people of Gaza are always changing weakness to strength."
The head of the Turkish Welfare Party delegation added that the Palestine issue is "present in the hearts" of all Turks; as such, "it must be present in the main policies of all countries in the region".
Prime Minister Haniyeh made special mention of his gratitude for the sacrifice made by Turkey and its citizens on the Freedom Flotilla which was hijacked by Israel in international waters in May 2010.
MEMO Photographer: Mohammed Asad